I planted a lot of garlic last fall, not really sure what I would get. In the past, my garlic has been decent, but the bulbs have been small and I haven’t gotten that big of a harvest. That’s not what happened this year.
I will admit that the tall stuff in the foreground is grass instead of nicely trimmed path. However, take a look further back, by the shop. All of that is garlic. Lots and lots of garlic! The plan was for me to have an early, mid, and late season crop. However, as I kept checking the “early” garlic, it became increasingly likely that “early” really meant “mid,” and that is what ended up happening.
Late last week, I went out to dig a sample bulb for our garlic bread, only to find that both the early and mid-season varieties were done NOW. Of course, this was right before dusk, so I did not have time to take pictures as I hastily braided my harvest and hung it in the wood shed to cure.
The braids in the foreground are the so-called early crop, and the ones further back are the mid-season crop. Even though they ripened at the same rate this year, I want to keep them separate in case this was just a fluke caused by our odd weather. We aren’t completely sold on this variety, because it isn’t as pungent as what we have grown in the past, but even if I plant something else next year, I will also plant a sampling of these, since they are proven producers. Also, we have hopes that the pungency will grow as the bulbs cure.
Speaking of curing, as I was researching how long they are supposed to cure (anywhere from two weeks to three months) I came across an interesting point. I had always heard that the best way to cure garlic, at least the softneck varieties, was to braid it. In fact, just the other day, I came across another blog post, eighth acre farm, talking about curing their braided garlic. However, I came across blog after blog after blog that said to hang garlic in bunches for at least three weeks before braiding it. At this point, I changed my search to read: “curing garlic in braids,” not sure if this was really an unknown taboo in harvesting garlic or if I just was getting an inaccurate portrayal of gardening practices due to poor searching wording. Finally, I got a post that mentioned not only curing garlic in bunches, but also in braids. Unfortunately, it just mentioned that they did both, but not why, or if, one method was preferable.
At last I got my answer. Garlic can cure in braids, but issues can arise if one of the bulbs begins to go bad. If you wait a few weeks before braiding, it is easier to cull out the potential culprits. You are also more likely to have pretty braids if you wait due to two reasons: 1) the dirt will be easier to brush off at this stage; and 2) the braids won’t loosen up, because the stems will have already dried.
When the late-season garlic is ready to harvest, I will try waiting a few weeks and see if there is any noticeable difference. In the meantime, I need to figure out where I’m going to put all this garlic when it is done curing.