Friday, November 5, 2010

Garlic planting!

Last Monday I went to Glynwood to help with garlic planting. Driving down the mile long driveway the scenery was different from the last time I was there not so long ago. Lower tree limbs were looking bare and the remaining foliage, clinging stubbornly to the branches, were an assortment of oranges, yellows, and browns.

I stepped out of the car and could faintly see my breath. The tips of the grass were frosted. I had smartly worn tights under my Carhartts and a wool hat. Dave, Dayna and I loaded up on seed garlic, hand tools, and the dibbler ( a tool that is used to make 3 holes in a bed every few inches apart.)

It was 8 am in the morning, the sky was blue, the air was crisp, and we were ready to go. Only one thing got in our way, the top layer of the soil was frozen. We stood there looking at the ground and then at each other. Well shit. We gotta wait until it warms up. So I helped them harvest some beautiful looking broccoli crowns and then went home.

At 1:30 pm I returned to the field for take two of garlic planting. The beds were smoothed out with a rake and then holes were dug a few inches apart. One clove was put in each hole with the pointy tip up. Seed garlic is just regular garlic, but you try to select the biggest and nicest looking garlic to be your seed garlic. One head of garlic could have 6 cloves, which means you get 6 plants of garlic from one plant. After all the cloves are in the ground we lightly rake soil over the top completely covering the holes. The fun part is mulching the garlic. We take bails of straw and sprinkle it heavily all over the bed to help protect the garlic and suppress weeds in the spring.

Garlic planting (at least in Northeast) takes place in the fall because it gives the plants a bit of a head start. It gives them just enough time to put on some roots before going dormant. In the spring it is off to the races and will be ready for harvest in July. You could technically plant in the spring but it may not be ready until August or September. It's important to get a bit of head start because it takes so long to cure garlic (about 6 weeks.) Curing garlic is what gives it the ability to be stored a long time.

If you plant garlic too early in the fall it could put on too much growth and start popping out of the ground and then it dies when the frost comes. So to be on the safe side Dave waits until after Halloween to plant garlic.

Planting garlic feels like I have come full circle, but in reverse. Typically you plant and then harvest. But this time I harvested and then planted. There is no doubt that the season has come to an end.

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