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Garlic Update

As you might recall, Aunt Toby found some lonely little lost forgotten garlic plants last year and scrubbed out a little area and planted them.Second chances And promptly forgot them until they came back up in the spring. One of the wonderful thing about garlic is that they really are like potatoes, since you can’t see exactly what is going on; you have to just keep them weeded and watered and hope that you get something good when they are ready to dig up.

So, how do you know when they are ready? Well if you have soft necked garlic, the top of the plant just collapses and dries up. Once that happens, you are good to dig them up. If you have hard neck garlic (and these are obviously hard necked), the central stem dries up and turns white. Once that happens, the bulbs have matured and you can dig them up.

There are several ways to save garlic, but all of them start with cleaning and drying. Once you have dug the bulbs up, shake as much dirt off them as you can and rinse well. Put out in the sun and let them dry for a day. Some people save them in jars; there are methods of braiding the stems and the leaves. Here’s our method:
First: Make the decision of whether or not you are going to use any of this harvest to replant for next year. If the answer is ‘no’ then you can buy or order garlic stock from other sources. If the answer is yes, then look over the bulbs and choose the biggest healthiest one you have, split it up into cloves and plant into a prepared bed as far down as your hand can reach in soft soil. The best time to plant is right after the first frost in your area.

Second: Take the rest of your garlic, split into cloves and peel, break off the little root bit at the end, rinse off and put into some container that you can reopen, like a yoghurt container or a ziplock(tm) bag. If you are using a bag, you can suck out the excess air when you get to the last little bit to zip shut. Then just put into the freezer and use as you need them. Easy as pie and lasts seemingly forever.

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  1. Debi says:

    I love garlic! This was my first year sowing them and I found it really easy. Yours look great!

  2. Shiphrah says:

    I peel the cloves (a sticky business, aided by smashing them with the side of my chef’s knife) & chop them in my food processor. My 1/2 share in a CSA provides a couple huge batches late summer & early autumn. When processed they fill one of those 24 oz./3cup disposable plastic containers. I cover it with a little olive oil and stash it in a handy spot in the fridge. My husband observes that I can’t cook without garlic & onions – too true – and this lasts me all year.

  3. Toby Wollin says:

    Shiphrah – mmm there is no dish (other than desserts) that, IMHO, cannot be improved with the enthusiastic application of garlic and onions. I am currently roasting a piece of beef, at 170 degrees in my oven, covered with a rub made of several cloves of garlic smashed up with various spices and ground black pepper.

  4. Toby Wollin says:

    Debi – as soon as it gets a frost up there (when does the frost hit in Scotland? Depends on which side you’re on, I guess, right?), you’ll want to sow again. And, if you can get hold of what are referred to as ‘multiplier onions’ you can sow those as well this fall and then you will have fresh scallions in the early spring!!

  5. Shiphrah says:

    Garlic + dessert? Well, there’s always mole sauce, but that doesn’t count. But I bet my onion marmalade would work with the “everyday chocolate cake” over at …..

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