Garlic harvest is underway! And as with most things on this farm, we learn from experience. Our whole garlic growing season has been a learning by doing experience and now the harvest is too.
We have learned that you definitely want to get all those scapes cut off (it will produce bigger garlic heads) or at least the major of them. It is nice to leave a few in the field to watch and monitor the curling and uncurling. After the scapes curls twice, it then uncurls and points straight up again. Some say that is when you want to harvest and in our area that usually happens around the 4th of July. Others say wait until the bottom two leaves dry out. So we enjoyed watching all our scapes curl and uncurl and then we couldn’t get a crew together to help get the garlic out of the ground until the bottom two or three leaves were dry.
We started harvesting by pulling it out of the ground by hand. Then decided that was going too slow and there had to be a better way. So out comes the tractor and hay crowner. That worked good for the first couple of rows where the ground was still moist, as long as we went slow and kept it deep. But then the ground was too hard and dry in spots and we couldn’t get the crowner deep enough. We were cutting lots of garlic and cutting into the other half’s patience and temper. So back to hand pulling the garlic we went! It actually went pretty quick with the help of lots of hands of friends and family! We are so appreciative to have so many loving, helpful, kind-hearted, hard working people around us!
We are only about half way done with the harvest. I’m positive getting rest of garlic out of the ground will be another fun learning experience. There is already talk of using a cultivator or renovator, which will still result in hand picking it off the ground, bundling and hauling it to the shed to dry . . . . . . . if one of those methods of getting it out of the ground works. We are learning that growing garlic requires lots of time, labor and a strong back. Every step of the process of growing garlic requires handling it by hand or hoeing it by hand.
Once the garlic dries, we cut the head off and bag it. Then it’s ready to go. And hopefully, we will forget how much work, frustration, and back pain is involved in growing garlic for rest of the summer so we will be willing to plant more of it again this fall and start the whole garlic growing cycle over again.