Monday, October 16, 2017

Garlic To Ground Yet Again

Growing garlic has been a passion here for at least two decades.  Problems go hand in hand with this plant.  Age has impacted our ability to eat nearly raw garlic.  We recently tried garlic bread with the last batch of pesto.  That meal tasted great but discomfort quickly followed.  It was expected and we will likely try them again.

Garlic disease is the other problem.  It took us entirely too long to realize that sick plants poisoned the soil.  This year our garlic will be planted in nearly new soil.  The first crop in this new ground was potatoes.  Generous soil amendments were stirred in to get this ground ready for garlic.  Two sections of wire fence were used to mark off uniformly spaced planting holes.  One section of fence was rotated ninety degrees creating a graph paper accurate grid.  The fence sections were left covering the ground to keep the turkeys from stirring the new dirt.

We have been planting peeled cloves recently to avoid placing disease in our new ground.  We use Daphne's method and it is working.  Several of our six varieties showed no clove rot when peeled.  This is a major improvement.

Four of these cloves show the beginnings of a rot that can wipe out a planting across several years.  The other clove has something that we rarely see but it looks horrid.  The standard practice when popping cloves for planting is to feel the bulb checking for firmness.  Only solid bulbs provide the cloves to be planted.  None of the pictured rot would have been found using the light squeeze method.  All of these cloves might have been planted and their illness would have been transferred to the soil.  We plant only clean cloves but some problems do appear when the plants are growing.  Early removal of sickly plants is a wise course of action.

One hundred twenty cloves were planted this morning.  Sixty more will follow this afternoon.  That leaves ninety more for another day.  Here is a list of the six different varieties that we plant.  Five of these are porcelains since that variety stubbornly grows in our late summer wetness.  All of our stock was locally found.

White Bishop has been with us the longest.  We assigned the name to recognize the local legend that grows and sells this variety.  Charlie Bishop has yet to reveal his original source of this variety so we frequently return to his roadside stand to renew our stock.  Nearly half of last year's crop failed despite the fact that we planted only peeled cloves.  We will look carefully at the rest to see if any can be planted this year.

Richfield Springs is another name created here.  When a new roadside stand appeared, we purchased quantities of this garlic.  Her first season's garlic had been planted on ground that had previously been used to feed young cows.  Their leavings ran deep and dark and the garlic grown there was enormous.  Unfortunately disease appeared in subsequent crops and our planted stock carried the disease.  Using the soak and peel method has completely cleared this variety of disease.

Susquehanna White is a name created by its grower.  A roadside sign advertised his organic vegetables.  His location was the best that I have ever seen.  A glacial mound provided a site for his home that was above the highway providing quiet and privacy.  Behind the house the ground slowly fell away creating a gently sloped garden site that faced south.  At the base of the slope a greenhouse was installed on level ground.  The mainline of the former D & H railroad ran nearby.  The river is on the far side of the railroad tracks.  His garlic was healthy but small.  We have worked with his stock for several years and the last harvest was impressive.

Helen's is the name given for this recent gift from a now departed special person.  During her later years she made a tremendous positive impact on our lives.  This garlic serves to remind us of Helen frequently.  It is also the best variety that we grow.  Forty-seven bulbs were harvested from the fifty that we planted.  We found absolutely no sign of rot when these cloves were prepared for planting.  Helen was going to search out the source of her garlic for us but she was not given enough time for that unimportant task.  For us her name on this variety is perfect.

Lamb's Quarters is the name of a local family farm that raises and sells lamb meat.  They also sell garlic at the Farmer's Market.  Her story is that her father in law brought this garlic with him when he emigrated here from Poland.  It is an oft told story that just might be true.  In any event this variety features bulbs consisting of just four cloves.  The bulbs are not impressive but the four cloves are.  It is very easy to remove just four cloves from the bulb.

Guilford Purple Stripe identifies both town of origin and the type of this garlic.  It has a growth habit that is visually different from our main crop porcelains.  We use it to separate the plantings of the different porcelains.  This purple stripe displays attractively colored bulbs that contain brown skinned cloves.  The only drawback is its tendency to form huge double or triple cloves.  These are a nightmare to plant but are easy to use in the kitchen.

Daphne's Garlic Solution;
First before they are peeled I make up a solution of one quart of water and one teaspoon of baking soda. The night before I drop in all the good cloves I sorted out. The next morning I take them out and peel the skin off. The solution makes the skins much easier to peel in addition to helping to disinfect the cloves. When the cloves are peeled, I usually find a few cloves that are bad, but I couldn't see because of the skin. Once they are peeled, rinse them. Then put them in alcohol for three minutes. I use vodka which is 80 proof, but many use a higher proof. I don't happen to have anything higher in the house and 80 has worked for me. Once the three minutes is up then rinse them off again. Now the cloves are ready to plant.

Planting in October is an unusual experience.  Most food crops are started following winter.  We know that the bitter cold and snow will soon be ours but we also know that next season's garlic has already been planted.  Planting food now just feels great.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Late Bloomers Are A Joy

It is so very nice to have a few late bloomers in the garden.  In October Autumn begins to wind down and most of the garden has gone to seed.  It is a real delight to still have something getting ready to bloom!

I have had this Sedum sieboldi for many years. I bought it on my one and only trip to Caprilands.  Small pink flowers with bright pink pollen have a subtle but pleasing aroma. Now that so few blooms are around they get to be the center of attention.

Treats for the bumblebees are down to a precious few.  It's easy to get their picture.  They are so intent on the fact that they have discovered pollen and nectar they don't care how close you get with the camera.   The Gallardias are also buzzing, but today I have a strong preference for pink.