Thursday, July 12, 2012

Garlic Conundrum

As a gardening newby, I struggle with knowing when to harvest some crops. Garlic proved to be one of those crops this year. I planted my garlic bulbs last fall and then were doing well this spring, but perhaps with the early mild temperatures they matured quickly. I'm not sure if I made a mistake, but the leaves began to wilt (perhaps due to the extreme temperatures).

I read on the internet, at two separate sources, that I should wait and harvest the garlic when 30-50% of the leaves had turned brown.

So I waited...

And waited.... (against my better judgement)

And some long tubular projections appeared and I discovered that garlic scapes come fromg garlic! Then those long projections turned to flowers!

Then most of the leaves turned brown.

Still I waited because my husband said that a guy at the Farmer's Market said not to pick the garlic until August.

 Every now and again, I'd weaken and pull a garlic plant up out of the ground and discover a teensy weensy little head of garlic on the end.

I discussed the conundrum with my neighbour, Iain, and he and I decided I should prune off the flowers so that they don't sap the energy from the garlic bulbs. I pruned the flowers off all but two rows (about 10 plants), so later we could compare the results.

Then in early July, I went outside one evening and all the leaves were brown. So I harvested all my garlic. The bulbs are small, but I feel I had no other choice. The plants that had the flowers still on them had miniscule garlic bulbs, so we did the right thing cutting off the flowers.

Last time I planted garlic, it must have been soft-neck garlic because I braided the leaves and hung it up that way.
This garlic had really tough and inflexible stems, so I used zippy-ties to bundled it and then hung it on a dowel I bridged across a ladder in the garage.

And when I harvested, I left about six plants. I will pull those up in August, just to see if I jumped the gun on this one. I tend to do that.

~Miss Greenish Thumb~

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