Friday, July 22, 2011

Garlic Harvesting and Curing

First come yummy garlic scapes, then you get full-on heads of garlic!  Aside from the fact that Bermuda grass, my nemesis, tried to infiltrate my garlic bed, this was a seriously easy plant to grow.  I'm sure I'll do better next time, too.  If I had watered a bit more at the start of the summer I probably could have grown larger heads, but who cares.  I can't wait to taste it!  Garlic is hugely popular in this household and I have no doubt we'll be able to work our way through the entire harvest.

Since this was my rookie garlic gardening season, I consulted the interwebs and my library heavily for information related to the best methods to employ.  The best, most thorough and concise info I could find came from Margaret Roach over on A Way to Garden.  She has several posts on when to harvest, how to cure, and methods of preservation.  This post on curing was most applicable for me and I was so grateful to find it!

Following Margaret's instructions, I gently dug the garlic heads up with my gloved hands, being careful to keep the stems attached (to preserve the storage life of the bulb).  I lightly brushed off the dirt and then tried to figure out what on earth to do with all of it!  The idea is to lay (or hang) the garlic out to dry for several weeks in a shady, well-ventilated spot.  If I had a spare screen door kicking around, it would have been perfect.  I dug around in the garage for a while, got frustrated, then wandered around outside to see if anything struck a chord.  Then I found my solution.

Our front porch was once held up by old metal scroll work panels (circa 1963).  I'm sure they were quite dashing back in the day, but they looked rather dated now.  We replaced them with 4"x4" posts, but I didn't want to get rid of them.  They seemed like a great raw material to build some sort of garden trellis out of.  Note that those grand plans have resulted in four metal scroll work panels being stacked along the side of the house for the last five months.  Oops.

Well, it just so happened that I could balance one of those scroll work panels over a pair of sawhorses and end up with a perfectly adequate garlic drying rack!  Ta da!  In order to keep it nice and shady, I set the rack up under the eaves on the north side of the house, and then put up a large outdoor umbrella for good measure.  I hope this works because I am looking forward to lots of garlic-eating all year long!

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