Friday, July 4, 2008

garlic harvest party!

It was time for the garlic to come out of the ground, after growing there for 9 months.  Amazing how a small clove of garlic turns into a whole bulb in 9 months, with just water & fertile soil.  Oh, and lots of weeding too.  
Farmer Dave decided to take the tractor out with the chisel plow on it, to loosen up the bulbs so that they would come out easier.  
These curved blades ran right underneath the garlic, lifting them out slightly without damaging the bulbs at all.  Much easier than the way they had always done it before by hand, with digging forks.
Here's the little section we left with the garlic scapes still attached... they elongate & grow these little bulb-like flower heads, all pointed in the same direction, like little goose necks.  The bulbs they make underground are smaller, because the energy goes into the top part.
We had a great turnout of volunteers to help us harvest!  Here's some pictures:

Steps to harvesting garlic:
1. Loosen soil (chisel plow/ spading fork)
2. Pull garlic up
3. Rub palm of hand against the roots to remove soil that sticks to them
4. Clean up a little, remove the slimy brown leaf on the outside, etc.
5. Bunch in piles of 10
6. Tie with twine, just above where the leaves start on the stems
7. Hang in barn to dry
Farmer Dave says we maybe should have harvested it last week because of the wet weather we've been getting.  A few garlic plants broke off at the neck because the outer layers were starting to turn yellow & rot.  But not too many.  And since we cleaned them up a little & have a fan in the barn where they're drying, they will probably be fine.  We could use a little lower humidity in the air for the next week or two.  Too much to ask?
And here they are in the barn, hanging on nails on the walls...
...and on strings strung across the ceiling.  The smell in here is amazing.  I'm hungry.
Friday's harvest-- we had awesome volunteers again!  We even had someone picking the extra lettuce in the field (it's all ready at once!) to donate to a local food bank.
And an extraordinary 5-year old farm-kid has helped us in the field for 2 days in a row now, all day!  We converse about the dietary preferences of japanese beetles versus cucumber beetles,or different styles of hoes, and he knows just as much as I do.  And we make up stories or songs sometimes too.  Great fun.

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