Tuesday, September 10, 2019

What to do with all that garlic!

Storing your garlic, simple ideas.

Your garlic has been hanging to dry now for over a month. They are ready to have the stems removed and any loose dirt brushed off and placed in appropriate containers for long term storage over the winter. Here are some ideas of how to keep your garlic over the winter. Keep them in containers that are breathable, such as paper bags, mesh bags or airy baskets, and keep them cool and dry. They store very much like onions and potatoes. Root cellars, if you live in a house with one are ideal, garages, as long as they are kept above freezing, closets that are not in direct heat source, the coolest corner in an apartment. You can also peel the cloves and freeze them whole, my personal favourite! It's so easy to just grab a handful and chop while they are thawing. Not great for any raw dishes, but perfectly suitable for anything cooked. Garlic can be pickled, dehydrated, and even blended with olive oil and frozen into small serving size portions.

Garlic hanging in a net bag in the kitchen pantry.

Preparing your garlic and garden for planting, quick tips.

If you are not storing all your garlic, then there is only one other thing to do and that is to plant it! This is when you carefully select the medium to large bulbs, or the best of the smaller ones and clean off any remaining dirt. What you are looking for are root decay, questionable clove separation, mold, and discoloration on the bulbs, brown spots on the cloves and insect damage.
Some of the main diseases and insects to watch out for are:
1  Fusarium

The garden space for your garlic should be prepared soon. Turn in any cover crops and add lots of compost, manure, if you can get it. I like at least 2 inches of compost worked into the soil. Let it sit for a week or so to allow the microbes to do their thing.
Quarter acre of buckwheat and faba beans ready to be turned in.
 Click on this OMAFRA site for more info on how to plant.  Basically, you break the garlic apart into cloves, and plant them with the pointy tip upward. The tip of the garlic should be two inches below the ground.  Plant 4 to 6 inches between cloves and 8 to 12 inches between rows.  Cover the garlic up and mulch with loose straw about 2 inches thick.  

So a little bit of what has been happening on my farm as an example of something you can do on your own scale of growing and available resources.

While the garlic was curing, the field from where it was harvested this summer was planted to buckwheat right after. I left the buckwheat to flower to allow the migrating monarchs and local bees/wasps to feed from the nectar. I don't suggest that you leave the flowers to get ahead of you since they will form seeds and replant either this fall or next spring and become a weed problem. I do this because I won't need this patch for another 4 years. Last week I broadcast cereal rye into the buckwheat and I am hoping it will germinate under the leafy canopy. Once it does, I will flail mow the tops of the buckwheat down to about 12 inches high from the ground. The rye should take off and produce some nice little plants of about 3-4 inches high until winter, then it will stop growing and wait until spring to resume its growth again. This rye will be a spring time cover crop until mid-june when I plant a 3 year perennial crop.

Meanwhile the patch for this year's garlic planting is also growing buckwheat along with faba beans added to the mix for nitrogen fixing. This crop will be worked into the soil the next week and manure spread on the surface and worked in again and shaped into raised beds. I plan on planting during the second week of October. As a side note, I am going to experiment with a no-till section in the garden for some of the trial garlic. I will write a blog entry about that at a later time.