Every year, right around the 4th of July, the garlic is ready for harvest.
Fresh garlic must be pulled from the ground, cleaned and bunched, and transported to the greenhouse for drying. With about 8,500 plants grown per year, that’s a lot of pulling, but it gets our thighs in great shape (think squat-pull-repeat all the way down the 200’ bed).
We spread the garlic out on the greenhouse tables, which at this point in the season converts to a drying room. We put a shade-cloth on the greenhouse and keep the fans running to create a good environment for drying down the garlic, in the shade with plenty of air-flow.
After a few weeks, the garlic is dry and cured, and we can cut the heads from the stems. Then we must sort the garlic, setting aside the largest 2000 bulbs to use for seed, and cleaning the rest for CSA distribution through the fall.
Starting in October, we will begin breaking up the seed garlic into individual bulbs for planting. This is a pleasant job, but does give us all sore thumbs!
About the middle of October, we will plant the garlic into beds that John has prepared specially, with three raised ridges per bed. We plant the garlic into these ridges to help them get a jump on growth in early spring, keep them well-drained to prevent rotting in winter freeze/thaw cycles, and to make them easier to pull at harvest-time.
After they are all planted, we mulch the entire patch with a 6” layer of certified organic straw. This mulch layer protects the garlic bulbs from heaving out of the soil during the freeze/thaw cycles in winter. Yep, we tuck them into bed for the long winter.
In early spring, the green shoots of garlic are the first plants growing on the farm!
And the cycle of yearly harvest and planting continues…
Here's to wonderful Good Farm German Extra Hardy garlic!