Monday, June 15, 2015
Garlic harvest should begin in one month from now. Each year I try to delay digging in the hope that my crop will feature impressively huge bulbs and cloves. Dying leaves relax their tight grip on the stem and rain water finds its way down inside the bulb wrappers. This year the plan is to begin digging early. In spite of the bizarre weather this year, the garlic now looks extremely good. Putting large size aside, we are going for a disease free harvest. A scape can be found amidst the tangle. It is pointing toward the ground.
Not all growers believe that removing garlic scapes increases the size of the bulbs. With the second method of reproduction gone, all of the plant's energy is directed to the bulb. If left in place these leafless stalks will produce an incomplete flower and a cluster of tiny bulbils. The advantage in planting them is that they carry no soil borne disease. Their disadvantage is the number of years required to grow full sized bulbs. Garlic scapes appear in farmer's markets as a food fit for humans. They might pickle like green beans but we gave up canning years ago. As a stir fry ingredient they would add zip but we now eat very little rice. So in the compost they go. Their scent will be unmistakable a year from now when the mature compost is screened.
Purple stripe is the name of this variety. We use it as a marker plant to separate our other plantings of varieties that display only similar to each other appearances. Purple stripe is shorter than the rest with a thicker stem. Its leaves are broad and closely spaced. A bluish cast in the leaves makes purple stripe stand out from the rest. Harvested bulbs display beautiful colors making this a real winner.
White Bishop is the name we assigned to this variety. Purchased from a local grower named Bishop, his name had to be matched with this variety. Anyone that has attended the Saugerties Garlic Festival must have seen Mr. Bishop. Most growers there displayed their crop from the back of a pickup truck. Charlie worked the crowd with a never ending carnival barker's banter. He sold a great deal of his fine garlic and everyone knew that he was there. I suspect that the actual name of this variety is Extra Hardy German White but definitely prefer to call it White Bishop.