Tuesday, October 18, 2016
270 Garlic Cloves Planted
Growing healthy garlic in upstate New York is difficult at best. The natural growth cycle of the plant is totally at odds with our weather. Prior to its mid July harvest, garlic needs several weeks to dry down. Our weather at that time of year roars to us from the south and features both high humidity and high temperatures. Thunderstorms are common then and garlic plants that are trying to dry are repeatedly soaked. As any Alabama belle can verify, mold is common under those circumstances.
This garden by the woods was opened to provide disease free ground for garlic growing. Since I poisoned one bed by planting disease ridden cloves there, garlic is rotated through the remaining three beds. A new bed is planned to be ready in time for next year's crop.
Six different varieties were planted in a bed that is five feet wide and eighteen feet long. The covering leaves are newly fallen and were run through the lawn mower. Wire fence was placed on top of the leaves to hold them in place. It will be removed just as soon as the snow melts.
In an attempt to control disease, we soak and peel each clove. This is an effective approach as very few of our bulbs are now soft to the touch. Despite an overnight soak, the wrappers remain tight to the clove. A well placed tiny scissor snip is necessary to provide a spot to pull on. After that the most annoying result is a thin transparent skin that clings to whatever it touches.
This clove shows the most infection found this year. As disgusting as it appears, the bulb felt solid hiding the problems just under the skin. Had this clove been planted a diseased plant would have tried to grow infecting our soil. Each of our six varieties revealed some infected cloves. Many contained only a single small brown spot but all of them found the trash. The range of infected cloves per variety ran from 5% to 20%.
This wrinkled clove is a new experience for us. Only Lamb's-quarters presented these. Four such cloves were planted and their locations recorded so that we can see what grows from these wrinkled cloves.
Having no hint of the outcome when peeling cloves, we need to soak enough to exactly fill the fifty or forty planting holes allotted to each variety. That produced a large pile of peeled but unplanted cloves. An old favorite recipe for garlic chicken solved that problem.
It is difficult to adequately describe the feelings that come with planting next year's crop in October. We did fall plant potatoes but the garlic will begin showing above ground growth soon after the snow melts. Our next garden is well and truly under way.