Growing Garlic!

The garlic is ready!  FINALLY.  Talk about delayed gratification.  I mean, we only planted it last fall.   But these babies are worth waiting for.  Look at them!

Don’t they look scrumptous?  Not quite as clean as the store-bought garlic (don’t know how they get those bulbs so sparkly white), but just as delicious and tons more healthy. 

These are Shilla.   I think.  One may be Sonoran or an unspecified type I purchased from my local supplier–lost track when I moved them from their curing stage to the kitchen! 

Oh, well.  Garlic is garlic, right?  I bought several varieites from an online organic supplier.  Shilla are supposed to be garlicky/Dijon in flavor.  As if I could tell.  I’m no connoisseur.  All I know is they taste wonderful!  And the smell of fresh garlic in the kitchen is one of my favorites.  Second, that is, to sautéed garlic and onions.   Yum.

Garlic are ready when their greens die back.  (Not a pretty sight, is it?)  To be sure, you can check their progress by gently digging away the dirt–it’s soft, because your beds are tilled to perfection–and inspecting the bulb.  If it’s still oval-shaped, cover them back up and wait.  If it has the bulgy appearance you’re accustomed to seeing, they’re good to go. 

Unearth them and lay them out on a screen in an open, airy location until the “skin is dry and necks are tight” — this is straight from my vegetable bible by Ed Smith.  Highly recommend the book.  Other sources recommend you braid them, or cure them much like you would with onions.  This is done to prepare them for storage, though you can eat them fresh, if you prefer.  And who doesn’t prefer fresh garlic?

For total sustainability, you’ll want to save the largest cloves for replanting in fall.  And do, because this is a very easy crop to grow.  Doesn’t require a too much fuss, suitable for warm or cool regions — though hardnecks tend to do better in northern regions while softnecks and early season hardnecks are better adapted for warmer areas.  The one fuss factor:  garlic don’t like it too dry or too moist, but an occasional finger poke into the soil is all you need to manage them.

My advice?  Try your hand at garlic.  Wonderful cooked or raw, it’s one of the most versatile vegetables you can grow!

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