Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Last of the scapes; Countdown to harvest!

The two of us were both surprised at the number of scapes waiting for us when we got to the garlic patch yesterday.  We both expected maybe 20 or 30, not the hundreds we found.  Good thing - we sold every last one from the previous picking - we had none for ourselves.  Problem solved.

We could both observe the gradual yellowing of the garlic stalks: signs that the bulb is getting ready to be harvested.  Visual cues are never 100% on the mark, though.  Sometimes you just have to dig one of the guys up - and then eat it of course!

Generally, you want about 2/3 of the plant to be yellowing before you harvest, since you want maximum bulb growth.  But too much growth, and the cloves start to seperate from the head, creating more surface area for molds and fungus, and leading to a decreased shelf life.  These "split" garlic heads taste just as good as the fimer whole heads, but they just don't last as long, so figuring out the right time for harvest really does become important.  And with 12 different varieties, each with a different maturation point, well, we're gonna have some work to do.  Wish us luck!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Sun is Up & Scapes are Gone

Well, once again we've managed to get some friends to do work for us!  If it wasn't enough to have our dear friend Nicole come up from New Orleans to visit (and press her into farm service) our friends Steve, a Forest Service locavore, and Kristi, master of all things jam, jelly, and pickle, came out to the garlic field and removed our scapes for us.  Of course, they get something out of the deal - gallons of delicious scapes.  Steve likes to freeze them - and he's right - the texture stays crisp, and the flavor remains piquant.  And if things go like last year, Kristi will sell out of her pickled scapes long before the Farmers Market closes in October.

Even with the beautiful weather we've had this July, we still expect to harvest our garlic later than usual, due to the cold spring.  Our real hope is that it stays dry over the harvest and curing period in August - last year's rain and humidity caused some crop failure.  We'd like to double our plantings this year, so we need every clove we can get.  Thanks for reading - talk to ya again real soon!