I’m so pleased with the progress of our little garlic field. Remember when I planted it in early December? Of course you do. I’m growing a mix of organic hardneck and softneck garlic in a raised bed in our front yard. The next person who asks why I’m growing so much garlic is getting staked — because they are obviously a vampire. Who else would think this is a lot of garlic? Every savory meal starts with garlic. I love having this garlic in our front yard. All winter, through rain and sleet and snow and hail, I have been able to see green things growing in the yard. The tenacity of the garlic is inspiring.
December: Garlic sprouted through the frost.
January: the ground was frozen like the tundra, but the garlic kept growing.
February, it snowed. A lot. Garlic got bigger.
March, more like a lion than a lamb. Garlic does not mind freezing rain. Garlic gets bigger.
In a few months time, our garlic will send up its flower blossoms (called garlic scapes), which we will cut off and turn into pesto and frittatas. Removing the scape forces the garlic to put its energy into growing bigger bulbs. Scapes appear in June, usually. The bulbs start to harden off shortly after, and we should expect a harvest sometime near the end of July. Then? Our own personal garlic festival.
I planted garlic last weekend. The local gardeners say to plant your garlic in October, but I’m always behind. At least I got it in the ground this year! If all goes well, we’ll be harvesting two hardnecks (spanish roja, german red hardneck) and a Washington heirloom red softneck garlic sometime next summer. I got all the seed garlic at Gordon’s Garden Center in Yelm, WA. Since Blacklake Organic is closing at the end of the month (SO SAD!!!), I predict there will be a lot more trips to Gordon’s in my future.
I decided to try to grow garlic for a couple of reasons. First, I love varieties of garlic. The cloves are different colors and the flavors are different. At the grocery store, I can only buy one type of garlic. We love it, but variety is the spice of life. Garlic is not a huge part of our budget, but we do eat it often and could save money by growing it ourselves organically. Finally, perhaps most importantly, I’ve heard that deer don’t care much for garlic. The local deer population has left my leeks alone in the front yard, while devouring the open buffet of cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes and potatoes. They even eat hot peppers right off the plant before they are ripe. So, I planted most of the front yard with garlic!
This winter is about as weird as the summer weather was. The plants are confused. My contorted filbert is creating its male flowers, even though they shouldn’t come out until March. The lilacs are budding out, too. If we get another cold freeze, its’ going to kill all these buds. It’s still early December, so it seems likely we’re going to get more hard freezing weather. My fingers are crossed for all these plants.
We still have leeks & kale in the garden, but everything else has finished for the year. I think of January as the time for seed catalogs & planning the new garden, but that’s just right around the corner! I’m not ready yet! We still have leeks outside, so it can’t possibly be time to start the 2011 leek seedlings, can it? One trip around the sun blends into the next.