The garlic has been harvested.
Also the onions and the shallots.
As you can see, they are drying on racks, hanging from the rafters and filling up every available basket and container.
This year I grew 15 varieties. I believe that 9 of those are named varieties (Lorz, Inchelium, Chesnok, Early Italian Purple, Late Italian, Korean Red, Samarkand Purple, Red Russian, Porcelain (a type rather than a named variety)) that I bought from a grower or was gifted from a former colleague, Jeff Nekola. Six are varieties I found at our farmers market and they seemed different enough from what I was already growing to try. The unnamed varieties, of course had to be called something and I tend to be pretty simple in those names ( Big Mystery (it was big but its origin was a mystery), Hmong Brown (purchased from a Hmong grower – the outer wrappers seemed brown), HN.FM.03 (Hard-Neck.Farmers Market, 2003) , House (short for household, the first variety I planted, started from supermarket garlic – probably a silver-skin variety), Purple HN.FM.04 & Purple Mystery). Some of those might be redundant and each year I edit out one or two varieties from the mix because they seem too similar to some other variety. A week ago we went to Madison and went to the Farmers Market on the Capital Square where I picked up three new varieties to try, Greek Blue, Fuzzy Top and Muzik (also spelled as Music, but I like the odd spelling better). I know Muzik is widely grown on the West coast as a commercial variety. The other two are a gamble – we’ll see.
The harvest this year was very good. Through selective planting, I’ve been able to improve the size and consistency of the varieties I grow. Some started out as a single head of as few as four cloves, all of which I planted and “grew out” to yield 4 heads. Of those 4, I selected the largest and most uniform head or two to plant and used the less-than- ideal heads for cooking. By doing that over several years I’ve been able to bring along some varieties to a point that they average around 1/4# per head or about one ounce per clove (close to the size of a medium hen’s egg). While bigger isn’t always better, although I can’t say that the larger heads lack anything in flavor, they certainly cut down on the prep time when I’m using a lot of garlic.
In 2009 I harvested about 39# of garlic, more than enough for our kitchen use and plenty to barter for eggs and other stuff, and to give away to friends who are interested in growing their own garlic. If you want to try growing some of the varieties I grow (I also grow two types of shallot – brown, or Dutch shallot, and gray, or French, shallot), contact us and we’ll try to hook you up with one head of any variety for the cost of shipping, if you’re not local – no guarantees though because we’re not a business, just garlic lovers helping others get their allium-fix. If you’ve never grown garlic before be aware that it’s very easy but you need to start in the fall. Good garlic is fall planted in late September to mid-October, mulched heavily, and grown out the following summer and harvested in late July to early August. The rubric I learned from a commercial grower was that garlic needs to be in the ground nine months.