Friday, July 14, 2017
Garlic Harvest 2017
Garlic harvest came early this year in response to the seemingly endless pattern of severe thunderstorms. We usually harvest starting in the third week of July. Some brown leaves are nearly always in evidence before we begin to harvest. All of the green in the above photo is most unusual.
We watch others that are successful and try to copy what works. Our twice weekly trips to Norwich pass by a place where garlic grows within sight of the road. This individual has grown garlic on the same ground for many years. His crop always looks good despite the dangers of not rotating his garlic to new ground. He also harvests his crop a week or two ahead of me. So this year I followed his example and harvested my garlic early. The early harvest sacrifices late growth for a cleaner crop.
Despite the early harvest we encountered some problems. Bluish gray mold does not appear at the soil line of healthy plants. These will go directly to the trash. There are several possible causes of this trouble. Our frequent heavy rains have kept everything wet. I have read that it is impossible to grow decent garlic in upstate New York because of our typical pattern of July storms. Just when the garlic should begin the process of drying down the rains come.
Another possible cause of the trouble may be my planting pattern. My beds are five feet wide by eighteen feet long. Ten cloves are planted across the width of the bed. This intensive planting pattern may limit air circulation in the middle of the bed. Most of the moldy plants were located near the center.
The use of ground leaf mulch on garlic is not a common practice. We try to apply the mulch in a thin uniform layer to discourage weed growth and prevent the soil from drying out. The garlic remained nearly weed free and the excessive rainfall kept the soil moist.
This is our best harvest. Helen gave us this seed and it has always performed great for us. It was planted at the end of the bed surrounded on three sides by broken stone paths. Fall winds did clear some of the leaf mulch from this planting. Only three cloves of the fifty planted failed to produce usable plants.
As these bulbs cure their pure white color will become streaked with purple. The dried stalks will be cut shorter and the plants will hang vertically for several weeks. In mid October the cycle begins again with the selection of planting stock. At this time we are still eating from last year's harvest. The condition of those bulbs is excellent and one has to wonder what would happen if one year old cloves were planted.