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Last fall, we planted our first crop of garlic. Maid Elizabeth had carted a large bag of bulbs home from a farmers market and, not wanting any to go to waste, we planted the largest, nicest cloves and minced and canned everything else. We ended up with six 1/2 pints of canned garlic and two medium sized garlic beds. It was a wonderful garlic experiment.
Early this spring we noticed that our garlic was shooting up and looking wonderful, but we hadn't the slightest idea when or how to harvest. In early June, after we noticed some of the leaves beginning to brown, we actively began to research the proper time to harvest and how to cure garlic for long term storage (other than canning). We found that garlic is generally harvested in the beginning to middle of July, after 4 or 5 leaves have browned and withered from the bottom up. Although it was the last day of June, our hot summer had hurried the garlic along, and, after checking, we determined that it was ready to harvest.
The girls and I headed to the raised beds, basket in hand, to reap the rewards of our labor (although truth be told, there is very little labor involved in growing garlic). We carefully dug up each bulb, wiped the dirt from the surface and snipped the roots close. Bulb after bulb yielded to our gentle tugs, until at last, our basket was filled to overflowing. The bulbs were gorgeous, some nearly as big as a baseball!
After harvesting the garlic, we stood our screened drying rack up in the sun room and prepared the garlic for curing. Garlic needs to be cured for about two weeks in a warm, well ventilated room, out of direct sunlight. Not wanting to put the garlic in the shed (where the generator is housed) we sacrificed precious floor space in the sunroom/sleeping porch. After the garlic has cured for a week, we will braid the stalks and put them back on the screen racks to cure for another week.
While most of the garlic will be for eating, the best, healthiest looking bulbs will be stored until fall when we once again fill the raised garden beds with cloves for next summer's harvest.
Oh, the sweet harvest of summer!
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