Sunday, April 5, 2009
Two of three garlic plantings are visible in this photo. Each five ft. by twelve ft. planting contains 240 plants. A great deal of apprehension builds between October planting and April emergence. Mold is always present to some degree in the harvested crop. We have a sneaky rot that only appears as brown soft spots on the back of some cloves. Some cloves in a infected bulb are fine. A slight hollow feel is the only clue about this problem. Infected cloves do not emerge in the spring. The test of the quality of the selected seed is measured by the emergence of healthy plants. At today's count 695 plants show green of 720 cloves planted. Some of the missing may still appear. The pressure is off.
The true nature of this garlic grower can be seen in the neat spacing of these young plants. At planting I lay the welded wire fence on the ground to guide the dibble. All of the rows are parallel and the spacing is uniform. Each clove is planted with the flat side facing the planter. Cloves must shift during the winter as the plants are never in similar orientation to each other. I do not try for that. It is just easier to hold the cloves that way.
Deer walk across the garden all of the time. The fence keeps the deer away from the planted cloves. These sections of fence will soon be moved to protect the peas. Once the garlic is up and growing the deer usually do not bother it.
Two years ago a new variety to us was obtained from Lambs Quarter Farm in Plymouth. Grandfather had this garlic in his pocket when he passed through Ellis Island coming from Poland in the 1930's. This is the only garlic his family grows. It is one of the best that I have. Six to eight dark tan cloves of uniform size are produced by each plant. This variety has yet to show a double clove. Storage is long and the flavor is excellent. The large striped bulbs are striking on the drying screen. I feel fortunate to share in this family's heritage treasure. Garlic can be more that just another plant.