Sunday, July 12, 2009
Trouble Down Below
We have been locked in a cycle of daily heavy rain for the past several weeks. Water pours off low depressions in the fields where water does not usually run. Saturated ground and wet plants are a cause of concern. Yesterday was clear and dry so I took a look at the garlic. Above ground growth still looks good. Most plants still sport five green leaves and normally harvest would be in the future. The decay at the base of the bulbs says harvest now. With nearly twenty varieties of garlic harvest takes several days. Highly treasured kinds were taken first. Then the rain came.
Normal harvest routine is to dry the garlic on wire cages for one day. Drying takes place in the shade of our one tree and in the basement. Scissors remove the root mass. Then the lowest solid leaf is pulled toward the bulb. All dirt and mold is separated from the plant. Cleaned bulbs are suspended base up on an elevated frame in the basement. Here several weeks pass as the garlic cures. The basement does smell like a salami factory but I have the benefit of an understanding mate.
For the moment the rain has passed. Wet plants cannot be harvested here. We do not have space or the means to remove that much moisture. Now we must wait for a brief dry hour knowing that the bulbs still in the ground are at risk. Once again I am glad that I do not make my living farming. Watching the weather destroy a crop is difficult when the crop is only a pastime. It must be crushing if the crop is your source of income.