Category Archives: Garlic Harvest

The Garlic Is Harvested

The garlic harvest is complete and our new barn is serving it’s purpose.

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This photo is the loft area full of Chesnok Red garlic. Each bundle has 25 garlic bulbs. The other two varieties are hanging in the downstairs area. The garlic will hang for about three weeks before we begin clipping and cleaning it to prepare it for market.

Having the barn proved to be such a blessing. We were able to pace ourselves with the harvest. My husband primarily did the digging. He would dig one or two rows a day and move it into the barn. I mostly did the bundling. He pounded the nails into the rafters and hung the garlic and I tied the garlic nooses. Just kidding they weren’t really a noose, but I pre-tied loops in each end of the strings and the string was wrapped around a bunch of garlic then one loop was pulled through the other loop and the string would tighten around the garlic. The loop on the long end was used to hang the garlic from the nail.

At times, especially in the extreme heat, the work was grueling, but the process went pretty smoothly. We make a good team. ūüôā

Besides harvesting all that garlic over the past two weeks we have spent time picking both blueberries and currants. Both have produced great crops this year. This has been our largest blueberry crop so far (we have picked over 3 US dry gallons) and I have put most of them in the freezer to be used throughout the year in pancakes and banana bread, but as a special treat I decided to make a blueberry pie.

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When I was making this pie I realized that this was the first time I have ever made a blueberry pie. I will confess that¬†I used a¬†premade, store bought, crust but the pie was delicious and it didn’t last long.

The other thing that we’ve spent a lot of time doing over the last two weeks is watering the gardens. Rain has been very scarce here this summer. The first three weeks of June were completely dry, then¬†on June 24/25 when the rains finally came. Over those two days we probably had three or more inches of rain. While it made up for some of the deficit, all that rain at one time damaged some of our plants, specifically cabbages. We then went into a hot dry spell and our next rain fall did not come until July 16. That day our rainfall was probably less than an inch. We had a little bit more today and the forecast¬†is¬†for more tomorrow. Feel free to say a prayer that the forecast is correct. We are.

 

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Since the garlic was harvested and there was rain in the forecast my husband spent the day yesterday preparing the garlic field for next years crop. The garlic field has been tilled and seeded with rye grass as a cover crop.

Even though the garlic harvest is done I don’t expect our pace to slow down as there are so many things that need to be done. If we do get a good rainfall we can the spend more time weeding (always easier after the rain). The grass needs to be cut and my husband will be checking the bees and hopefully harvesting honey soon. The list is way longer than that and probably longer than I realize, but I’m sure you will read about some of it as time goes on.

I also hope to get back to posting more often and some of the posts I have planned include a second post about things we are harvesting (if you missed the first one you can find it here), a post about honey, and as I mentioned in a previous post I will be sharing my thoughts about natural skin care.

Thanks for reading and until next time – Be Well.

 

We Can Dig It

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This post isn’t really about sitting on the beach or playing in the sand but I thought I would show you where we spent some time relaxing and celebrating Independence Day. Unfortunately by the time I remembered to snap a picture the beach umbrella had been blown down by the wind.

We decided to give our beach a little upgrade this summer, so when we had the stone delivered for the barn floor we also had a load of beach sand delivered. The sand was dumped on the beach and since we haven’t yet had time to spread it we haven’t been able to sit on the beach.

Yesterday my husband fixed that. He just took the tractor bucket and pushed through the middle of the pile of sand forming a small peninsula of sand in the pond. We then spent the late afternoon swimming and relaxing on the beach. It was a very enjoyable day.

Now what the title of this post is really referring to is our garlic harvest. It started today. If you are not familiar with how garlic grows, it is a bulb that grows under the ground. In order to harvest garlic it must be dug out of the ground. While 7000+ garlic plants may seem like a huge number, it is not nearly enough to be able to afford any fancy planting or harvesting equipment. Thus we dig each individual bulb by hand.

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Despite the brutal temperatures today we were able to get one of our three varieties harvested.  We only had two and 1/4 rows of this variety, Red Toch, planted Рprobably between 1400 and 1500 bulbs. We were thrilled to be able to move them directly from the field into the barn to keep them out of the hot sun.

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Once they were all harvested my husband began tying them into bundles and hanging them from the rafters. Our barn was finished just in time and we are so grateful to have it.

While I have several posts that I am working on and would like to publish soon, this really is a busy time for us. If I seem to be MIA for a while there is probably no need to send a search party. If you do, however, decide to send one make sure they bring a shovel. LOL!

Bonus Photo

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We are not the only ones who enjoy spending time at the pond.

Thanks for visiting and until next time be well. ūüôā

A Year In Growing Garlic Part X

We are wrapping up 2016-2017 garlic season and at the same time preparing for the next planting so this will be my final post in this series. I’ll start where I left off. We began harvesting garlic in mid July and although we had stopped watering the garlic two weeks prior to that, as is recommended, the soil was saturated from the rains that finally came.

Though larger garlic producers may have other methods, harvesting garlic for us means digging each individual bulb by hand. My favorite tool for digging garlic is this shovel with a narrow blade, a short shaft and a D-grip. It is a comfortable height for digging the garlic and the long but narrow blade can get close to each bulb and dig deep enough to loosen the soil under the roots. We bought a second, similar shovel this spring so my husband, who did most of the digging, would have one as well.

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My husband and I started together digging the garlic but before we got our first hundred bulbs out of the ground I needed to shift gears. I began laying the garlic  on racks so that the bulbs were exposed to the air in order for the dirt to dry, while he continued digging.

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When we ran out of room on the racks my husband began tying the garlic in bundles and hanging them from the fence posts. They still had good air exposure this way.

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and when we needed even more room he set up this system on the trailer hooked to the tractor which he could then park in the shade until we could get to them to brush and bundle them.

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The garlic coming out of the ground this year was very wet as the rains came just when we didn’t want them too. Once the dirt on the bulbs had dried it was time to remove it.

I have discovered that the easiest way to remove the dried dirt clumps from the roots and bulbs by hand is to wear garden gloves and just rub it off the bulb and roots. In the past years I would where cotton gloves and usually ended going through a several pair of them, ending up with hole in the right glove and a left glove that was still intact. (Yes I am right handed.) This year we used leather garden gloves and they held up much better.

After we rubbed off all of the dirt that was loose enough to come off we used twine to tie them into bundles of 10-25 bulbs so they could dry or cure. The garlic needs to cure in a dry, area with good air flow and out of direct sunlight for the next three weeks or so. The large bundles were hung from rafters to dry and smaller bundles were dried of shelves.

Since many factors contribute to how quickly the garlic will cure I would check different varieties, when I needed garlic for a meal, to see how they were coming along. To check them I would snip a bulb from its stem, clip the roots and peel it. When the bulb is cured all of the layers of peel inside should be completely dry and papery.

It was about three and a half weeks after we first began digging the garlic that some of the garlic was cured and I started the final cleaning. The finale cleaning prepares the garlic to be sold or stored. It involves clipping the dried leaves and stems as well as the roots. It also involves removing any dirt that still remains.

If you are growing garlic just for personal use there is really no hurry to do this. In fact leaving the stems and roots intact and even a little dirt on the bulbs, right up to the time you want to use it, will probably prolong the life of the garlic.

These are the tools I prefer to use for clipping and cleaning.

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On our first day of clipping and cleaning I was blessed to have my sister Jamie, and cousin Abby here to help. Abby is a farmer too and is always eager to help out if I say I need a hand, and while Jamie may not claim the title of farmer, she has done her share of farming related activities. Things such as growing her own vegetables and fruits, raising her own chickens and now she can add cleaning garlic to the list.

Working as a team seems much more efficient than each person doing their own pile of bulbs, so I clipped while Jamie and Abby cleaned. We all gabbed and the time flew by. I was even more grateful when they offered to come back to help one day the following week.

When I refer to clipping I am talking about removing both the leaf end of the garlic and the root end from the bulb. At the leaf end I usually cut 1/4 to 1/2 inch above the top of the bulb being carful not to clip the tips of any of the cloves. On the root end I clip as close to the bulb as possible but some of the roots still remain. It is my understanding that any garlic that is imported into the United States must have the entire root plate removed but garlic that is grown in the US can be sold with roots still attached. I am not sure why this is but since it is easier to just clip the roots down that is what we do.

As for the final cleaning we start by brushing each bulb with the scrub brush. Sometimes this is sufficient to remove the dirt and make the bulb look presentable. Sometimes the outer wrapper is dirt stained and one layer needs to be removed. Our goal is to get the bulb as clean as possible while keeping much of the outer wrapper in tact.

While cleaning the bulb I also give them a quick inspection for quality and sort them by size. To inspect the bulb I feel for firmness. Each outer clove should be firm. I also look for bulbs that may have been accidently sliced or dented while being dug and bulbs that do not have the outer wrapper in tact. Any bulb that does not pass inspection is set aside along with the very small bulbs. These will be used in my kitchen or dehydrated for powder. For sorting by size I am first looking for next years seed. Approximately the largest 15% of this years crop will be saved to replant in October.

Since we don’t punch a time clock I really don’t know how many hours my husband and I put into clipping and cleaning the 5000+ bulbs we grew this year, but I can say it was a long and monotonous process and I am thrilled that it is done.

I hope you have enjoyed following us through this year in growing garlic and if you haven’t been following along but would like to find out what you have missed you can find the whole series here https://donteatitsoap.com/a-year-in-growing-garlic/¬†. If you have any garlic related questions or comments be sure to leave them in the comments section below and I will be happy to respond.

I will conclude this post by responding to some of the things people have said or asked about growing garlic.

Comment: “Garlic is easy to grow.”

My Response: We have had much success in growing garlic but since I have had many people tell me that they tried growing it without success I am not sure that it is so easy. I do agree that given the right planting time, the right weather and soil conditions and the proper TLC garlic is easy to grow, but this seems as if it could apply to most crops.

I do find that people who make this statement are growing garlic only¬†for personal use, and as a garlic farmer I need to add that¬†while each step in the garlic growing process is easy enough that it could be performed by a 10 or 12 year old, growing 1000’s of garlic bulbs becomes both time and labor intensive.

Comment: I didn’t know that there were different kinds of garlic.

Response: I’ve read that there are as many as 600 different varieties.

Comment: I like the ones with the red coloring.

Response: There are many different varieties that have red or purple coloring on the skin. My varieties may be different then ones you have had before.

Question: “Does garlic really keep vampires away?”

My Response:¬†– “I assume that it does since our farm and home are completely vampire free,” or if¬†garlic is present at the time of questioning I say, “look around, do you see any vampires?”

Additional Statement: “No vampires¬† were harmed in the growing of this garlic.” I guess I just¬†needed¬†to satisfy any potential readers who belong to Vampire Rights Coalitions and such.

Thanks for reading. ūüôā

A Year In Growing Garlic (Part IX)

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I just wanted to do a quick update to let you know that we have started our harvest and at this time we are up to our ponytails in garlic. Well, I am up to my ponytail in garlic, but my husband who doesn’t have a ponytail is in just as deep.

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To harvest the garlic we have to dig it out of the ground, remove most of the dirt from each bulb, tie the bulbs in bundles the store them in their drying area where they will remain for about three weeks or so until the bulbs are cured. There really is a lot of work involved, at least if you are growing 1000’s of bulbs of garlic.

So if I seem to be MIA for the next week or so there is no need to worry or send a search party or anything. If you do send a search party we will probably hand them a shovel or give a quick tutorial on how to clean and bundle the garlic and put them to work. Hmm, on second thought, go ahead and send the search party. ūüôā

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I will do a more in depth post about this as time allows, but I just though I would let you know that if you are growing garlic and have not yet dug it up, you probably want to do it soon. If the bottom leaves are turning brown and drying up it is probably time. A good way to be sure it to do a test dig. If the bulbs are a decent size and have formed cloves it is time to harvest.

 

Garlic Harvest

Our garlic harvest started this morning. In case you are not a regular reader I have posted the links for the series I did last October about planting the garlic.

https://donteatitsoap.com/2015/10/08/this-is-a-lot-of-work/

https://donteatitsoap.com/2015/10/09/garlic-update-and-cold-and-flu-season/

https://donteatitsoap.com/2015/10/12/another-garlic-update/

https://donteatitsoap.com/2015/10/13/woo-hoo-the-2016-garlic-crop-is-planted/

I’ll admit I had concerns about the garlic throughout the winter but my husband continually reassured me that the garlic would be fine. The garlic sprouted before the freeze ever came and then winter brought continual freeze and thaw cycles. The young leaves on the garlic were frost bit.¬†¬†In spring the garlic was already growing up through the straw mulch so there was no need to pull the straw away. We did give it a small dose of fertilizer.

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The month of June was very dry and required much watering along with weeding of the garlic.

While watering the plants I began noticing that some of the plants seemed substantially bigger than in past years. The last watering was done during the last week of June since it is recommended to stop watering two weeks before harvesting.

Like with last falls planting we saw no need to do marathon harvest. We decided to harvest one variety at a time.

The rains that finally arrived last week, and brought our ground moisture levels much closer to normal, were such a blessing. We were able to take a break from watering crops and actually took much of the weekend off. The moisture also softened up the ground so digging would be easier. On Friday I decided that we would begin digging the Red Toch garlic on Monday morning.

Kara (my daughter who recently graduated from college and needed some summer work)and I began this project around 9:00 A.M.

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This is my tool of choice for digging garlic. The long narrow blade is perfect for loosening the soil close to the individual plants and digging deep enough to loosen the roots. The handle is also at a comfortable height for me.

We worked as a team, while I loosened the soil around the plants, Kara picked them up and shook up the extra soil.

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I was immediately amazed at the size of the bulbs. We both used¬†phrases ¬†like “Wow “or “Look at that!” or “WOW!” several times. “Some of these are the size of small apples” I told her. Truthfully I believe that at least 90% of the bulbs we dug today were as big or bigger than the original seed garlic that I purchased 4 years ago.

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We stacked the garlic in trays to carry to todays outdoor drying station.

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We placed them on tarps and layered them so the bulb parts were exposed to the air, the purpose being to allow the rest of the soil that is stuck to them to dry so it can be brushed off. Todays cloudy skies also proved to be a blessing, because while I wanted the bulbs exposed to air I did not want them baking in the hot sun.

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Guess who showed up to help. Kara, who was not fond of all the worms and spiders she was seeing, was happy to see this girl.

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I don’t have an exact count, but there are somewhere between 800 and 900 hundred garlic plants that we dug this morning. It took us about two hours to get this much done. Once the soil dries and can be brushed from the bulbs they will be moved to indoor drying shelves for the next two to four weeks where the bulbs will continue to dry or cure.

While I am super excited about this bountiful harvest, I am assessing the growing season to determine what factors contributed. The first thing we did differently was change the location of the garlic bed. This plot, which¬†in previous years had served as our main garden, was tilled last summer and then seeded with clover as a cover crop. Throughout the summer as the clover would grow up we would mow it down before it could go to seed. Just days before we planted garlic last fall the clover was tilled¬†under. The soil in this plot was¬†much¬†more of a loam than a clay compared to our previous garlic beds.¬†¬†The drainage in this area was also very good. The straw mulch aided in keeping the weeds¬†down. For this particular variety the warmer winter temperatures¬†were probably beneficial as¬†Red¬†Toch is a soft neck ¬†garlic, and soft neck garlic are normally grown in the south or in warmer climates. I am certain that the early fertilizer as well as the¬†watering and weeding throughout the month of June aided in the growth, but I also remember the simple prayer that we said after we planted our garlic last fall. “Lord please bless our efforts.”

Yes, I am¬†sure that each of these factors has played a roll in producing such a extraordinary crop, and¬†even though¬†the entire crop is not yet harvested,¬†our prayer today is, “Thank You, Lord”.