Garlicky Goodness

By , August 17, 2015

We just harvested garlic, and we’re very pleased with the results!

Garlic forms one of the pillars of our home cooking. Many of our favorite dishes and new creations start with sautéed garlic and onions. We sometimes roast whole heads, particularly of elephant garlic. We often laugh, remembering Michelle’s father’s stories of his grandmother’s devotion to garlic. “She served garlic as a vegetable!” he said, incredulously. “Well,” we say, “yeah!”

Something good happened with the garlic this year. While certain beds yielded the same fairly small garlic bulbs we’ve grown in the past, about walnut size or smaller, two beds produced monster garlic.

Garlic! Hard neck (upper left) elephant (right) and elephant bulbiles (lower left) (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

Garlic! Hard neck (upper left) elephant (right) and elephant bulbiles (lower left) (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

Michelle planted elephant garlic for the first time, so we expected little less from that bed. Even so, we’re excited to pull giant bulbs from the garden rather than going to the store to buy them, as we occasionally did in the past. Michelle gathered 45 bulbils from the elephant garlic harvest. Apparently, we can plant these and expect full bulbs or “rounds” next year, or wait for cloved bulbs the year after that.

She also planted a couple of hard neck varieties, Siberian and red, which we’ve had success with before (see “Gonion” Harvest). She planted beds in the garden (see Scraping a Living from the Land), but also in new grow boxes on the edge of the beach, between the veranda and the solar array. The latter produced larger bulbs than we’ve ever grown. They’re as big as the prize winning bulbs at this year’s Southeast Alaska State Fair!

Hard neck garlic (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

Hard neck garlic (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

We don’t know for sure what led to such different results between beds. It might have been the weather this year. The veranda beds get much better sunlight than the garden beds did. The garden beds might have suffered from too many encroaching tree roots, a constant problem. It might even have been depth of planting—Michelle realizes that she might have planted the garden beds too deep.

We don’t know for sure what led to such different results between beds. It might have been the weather this year. The veranda beds get much better sunlight than the garden beds did. The garden beds might have suffered from too many encroaching tree roots, a constant problem. It might even have been depth of planting—Michelle realizes that she might have planted the garden beds too deep.

The success of the veranda grow box has excited Michelle about developing more new beds there. We feel we can grow garlic outside the fence enclosure, because the moose, porcupine and voles seem far less likely to eat them. Moving our garlic beds outside the garden fence allows us to increase our output of vegetables these intruders target (see Preparing for Invasion). If that proves untrue, garlic-infused moose or porcupine doesn’t sound bad at all—we’d just save a little time in the kitchen later on.

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