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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Ah Garlic!

Planted the garlic this past Thursday. Put in around 1600 cloves of the stinking rose in 5 beds. like the past 7 years or so we planted three kinds: Persian Star, Chesnok Red (Shvilisi) and German White.

Planting all that garlic takes us a whole day. We start by carefully cracking open corms and separating the cloves from special garlic we kept back from the rest of the garlic that we are selling. Not all cloves are worthy for planting and those are set aside for making into garlic powder. Some have been ruined by onion maggots and have to be composted. I marked three paper bags with the names of the garlic to go inside, one for Chesnok Red, one for German White, one for Persian Star. I start with one type of garlic and finish that type before going on to the next type. this way we do not mix the varieties and keep them pure. After a couple of hours of opening up hundreds of corms the garlic is ready to be planted.

Planting consists of getting the beds ready by tilling, than putting compost, sul-po-mag and green sand on the beds and raking those items into the soil as well as flattening out the bed. Now the beds are ready for garlic placement. This year we did three lines of garlic per bed. In the past we did 4 to 5 lines per bed but noticed the garlic was getting smaller and smaller. So this year we decided since we have the room we could give the garlic plenty of room to grow big and strong.

Now I don't know what happened to us Thursday afternoon but basically the garlic planting broke down and did not get back on track until around 4pm, just 2.5 hours before dark. So at 4 pm I wandered up to the market garden and saw that Eugene had placed garlic in 2 beds and 2 more beds were all ready to go and the 5th bed was just getting its amendments put on and still had to be raked flat. So I grabbed a bag of Chesnok Red and proceeded to place cloves of garlic every 5 inches or so down the length of the 50' bed. After 15 minutes or so I had 3 neat rows going about 3/4 of the way down the bed. That done I grabbed the bag of German White and placed them in the bed to the east of the Chesnok and easily got a full bed with extra garlic still in the bag. While I was working on the German White, Eugene finished up raking and started placing the Persian Star in the bed he was working on. Than we both took the extra garlic cloves and found places for them such as the 1/4 bed that the Chesnok Red did not fill and that I filled up with Persian Star.

Once we were done placing garlic we went back over the beds and moved cloves around until we were satisfied with their positions. once that was done we were ready to put the cloves in the ground (always with the root end facing down). And it was a good thing were ready to plant because we were losing light fast. I can plant a bed with 330 garlic cloves in just under 15 minutes, Eugene is a bit faster. We had 5 beds to plant (we could not leave the cloves on top of the soil overnight as it was going to be frosty and they likely would not make it through 12+ hours of such exposure) and about 25 minutes before it was completely dark. So we got to work and quickly got them all in the ground before we lost 100% of the light. I gotta say the last 10 or so cloves were nearly invisible but we got them in.

Than it was beer :30 and we called it a day.

The next day, I cleaned the dried basil that was sitting in the dehydrator and filled the trays with garlic cloves and soon the house was filled with the aroma of drying garlic which is pretty damned pungent, I'll tell you what.

The garlic planting signals both the end of the current planting season and the beginning of the 2008 season as it is the first crop we plant for next year and, other than a few cover crops, will be the last thing we plant in 2007.

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