December 14, 2011

Green Garlic

From the Fields — Farm News, December 12th 

Garlic Shoots

Farming always requires a good measure of patience. I am constantly reminded of this. Today, we will finish pulling the weeds out of our current crop of garlic, which has a little story of its own.

Last fall, I decided to plant garlic because I love it, and it is an enjoyable crop to grow, but it was tough to find seed at the time we wanted to plant. After weeks of searching we found a little, bought it, and planted a half acre of it — over a year ago. By spring, it had grown up nicely and the seeds had matured. We pulled the heads out of the ground, dried them out a bit, put them in cold storage, and were eager to plant them back in the ground in the fall.

The summer passed with the garlic stored in bins, and we were careful to keep it dry and cool to prevent any rot or early germination.

Garlic Shoots

A few months ago when the weather cooled down in September, we decided it was time to plant our precious seeds. We planted them in a field that we irrigated and cultivated twice in order to germinate and kill some of the weed seeds that inevitably accumulate in the soil and threaten to out-compete our little garlic plants.

One morning, the barn was filled with the mouth watering perfume of freshly cracked garlic heads. The crew wears gloves when cracking and striping the heads. Can you imagine how intensely your hands would reek after shucking two tons of garlic? Each clove was separated from the bulb and planted by hand to fill a three-acre field. We are pleased with the growth of our original half-acre investment.

Garlic - Before Weeding

As I am writing this, over two months after we planted it, the first cultivation of the garlic field is almost complete. We started by dragging the tractor cultivator sled through the field to cut out the easy weeds, but the real work was done by hand. Our crew has spent the past five days hoeing and tugging out the dense grasses that sprouted up between the garlic shoots.

Garlic - After Weeding

In the spring, we will harvest the bulbs and bunches of tender green garlic leaves, and they will make their way to you. Every vegetable has a story!