Our pioneer forefathers had to use every season to its advantage in order to provide food for their families all year round. I had never done winter crops until two years ago when we planted our first bulbs of garlic.
Harvested garlic bulb
In the Pacific Northwest, garlic needs to be planted in the fall, around mid-October. Garlic likes well drained soil, so we chose to use raised beds, due to our large amounts of rainfall. Untreated cedar makes a great choice for your raised beds.
Softneck Garlic Ready to Harvest
Our first year, we planted hardneck garlic. Hardneck garlic can be easier to grow, but it doesn’t have as long as shelf life and you can’t braid it.
This year, we went with soft necked. Softneck garlic is ready to harvest when it falls over on it’s own. Hardneck garlic is ready to harvest when the tops begin to turn brown. Both are usually in mid-July. (Yes, that is my tomato plants in with the garlic. The garlic gets harvested before the tomato’s hit their growth spurt.)
Loosen the bulbs with your hands (you’ll get dirty) and pull them out. Garlic needs to sit somewhere with good ventilation to cure, for at least a week, maybe two. It shouldn’t be cured in direct sunlight, you can sunburn the bulbs and lose some of the flavor.
We hang ours on a leftover piece of metal fencing. After it’s cured, store it in a cool dry place. We used our pump house and just used our last bulb about six weeks ago.
But with the softneck garlic, I can braid it and hang it in the kitchen for easy access. We use garlic in just about everything we cook and in the wet, sometimes snowy, winter months, I won’t have to hoof it out to the pump house.
Do you do winter crops? What’s your favorite way to use garlic?
This post is featured at The Homestead Barn Hop.