The weather here has been beautiful all week. Nights in the low 40’s, days in the upper 50’s. The soil has cooled off some, but isn’t yet cold. Perfect conditions for the last planting project of my garden year – garlic.
Last July, we harvested about 85 heads of garlic. They’ve been curing on racks in the basement workroom since then, and today we’re ready to choose which will be re-planted for next year’s crop. The very largest heads, with the largest cloves are the ones that go back in the ground. This will be the 5th season for garlic at our house – all grown and re-grown from from the same original batch of German Hardneck purchased from a local farmer.
This year, I decided to add to our regular garlic, and purchased a bag of California Softneck. Softneck types have smaller cloves than Hardnecks, but supposedly keep better – Hardnecks tend to be a bit wrinkly by April. We shall see!
Preparing the garlic for planting is easy. Break the head open. Peel off the papery outer skin. Divide into individual cloves.
Be careful not to damage the protective layer around the clove itself, and or the hard root-end.
All totalled, we wound up with about 65 cloves of each variety. the larger Hardneck cloves are in the bottom of the bucket, the Softnecks are in the black nursery pot.
Up in the garden, we dug trenches about 3 inches deep, spaced the cloves 6 inches or so apart, and covered over with soil. For those of you playing our home game, the is the former site of the Epic Cucumber Harvest of 2010. To prepare it for its new occupants, James and I topped it with 3 inches of compost a few weeks ago, and turned it into the soil.
So, here is where they will sleep until Spring, when they will send up leaves, grow fat bulbs, and come out next July.
It’s Pasta Night at our house, and I’m feelin’ garlicky!
Roasted garlic is a wonderful treat. Easy to make, full of flavor, multiple uses.
First, cut the top off of an entire head of garlic, exposing the cloves. Drizzle with a teaspoon of olive oil. Wrap in foil, throw in a 400 degree oven for 30-35 minutes. Remove to a plate – wait a couple of minutes before you open the foil, less chance of a steam burn.
When the garlic has cooled enough to handle, slip the cloves out of the skin with a slender fork or the tip of a knife. Mash them into a paste, and use as you please. They make a wonderful addition to soups and home-made salad dressings, or,like we did with ours, mash it into some soft butter, and spread on crusty bread. Mmmm – so tasty!
Note: Roasting fresh garlic is also good for people who enjoy the flavor of garlic, but might not be able to digest it well, as the distressful compounds are nullified by the roasting process…