Garlic Garlic Garlic!
Everyone in our household enjoys garlic.
A few years ago, I had the opportunity to visit Gilroy California during their annual Garlic Festival. The event draws over 300,000 people during the weekend. There is garlic EVERYTHING.... stews, salsas, grilled, baked, fried.... even garlic wine and garlic ice cream!
In September 1999, our family attended the Hudson Valley Garlic festival, that takes place about 100 miles north of our home.
We were delighted with all the garlic... and had a crash course on the subject. We sat through several seminars and demonstrations, thoroughly enjoying ourselves. We particularly liked talking to the growers. In the northeast, the growers typically produce "hard necked" garlic, as opposed to the "soft neck" varieties grown in the west and Mexico.
We decided that we'd try our hand at planting some. So in October, we planted about 70 cloves of garlic in a little garden in our yard. We planted three different varieties (German White, Canadian Continental, and Musical). The shoots started coming up in late March, and we expect to harvest in July. We also sent some garlic to friends in Michigan, and they've planted theirs too... we'll be comparing notes with them, and hopefully between us, and the fussing, have a nice harvest.
Click on the small photos for a larger view.
The photo above was taken on May 3, 2000, showing a couple of the shoots.
In very late May we started seeing the center "scapes" begin to form (shown below). We may trim it so that most of the energy goes into the production of the bulb (the head of garlic).
On July 1, we removed the scapes from all but a few plants, so we could see how the plants mature naturally. I made the photo below on July 12... the pod looks ready to open. The plant stands over 5 feet tall, and is one of the Canadian Continental bulbs (clearly larger than the other varieties... the pod shown is an inch across).
On July 20, we were visiting friends in Michigan, and we harvested their garlic (they planted at the same time we did). Because of the rather wet conditions this summer, some of the bulbs were past their prime. However, they did get some nice heads of garlic, and were hung up to cure.
We were looking forward to harvesting our own little garden crop, and did so on July 24. Unfortunately, the harvest was underwhelming. The size of the bulbs was very small, much smaller than we had hoped for.
We are not yet sure if it was a problem with the chemistry of the soil, or if it is because there really is no part of our property that gets lots of sun. We'll discuss the crop with the experts when we attend the next garlic festival. A portion of the harvest is shown below. The bulbs smell great, and I suspect will be very tasty, if not tiny.
We did however, have a great time watching this, our first crop, go through the development cycle. It's been great fun, especially for us non-gardener types around here.
I'll try to put links on this page to other garlic related sites and activities. Click on the underlined links for more information.
We've enjoyed showing the progress, the successes and our failures of our first crop. This has been an interesting adventure for us... we're not farmers by any means, but we do love garlic in our food!
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