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Posts Tagged ‘Garlic’

I’m not always the best planner, and that was pretty evident when I filled our new raised beds with our planting mix. By the end of the “mixing day” I was exhausted and sore and just wanted to be finished filling the garden.

So I didn’t pay any attention to the garlic and chives already poking out of the ground. Once the beds were full, I just assumed the garlic would find it’s way up.

When that didn’t happen after a week or so, I knew we had to dig our way through the new dirt to find them.

It took a while and now the beds look a little more like a strange pit than a garden, but it seems the garlic is doing well. I found a picture I took of the new beds (sans soil) and learned more was still buried because there were actually two chive plants instead of one.

Now that everything is dug out (I hope!), we have 14 regular garlic plants and seven elephant garlic plants. Can’t wait until they’re ready!!

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It was something we decided on a whim, but planting garlic seems to be one of the best choices we’ve made for our garden.

Our first harvest of garlic from the garden.

Our first harvest of garlic from the garden.

Although a few either rotted in the ground or were dug up by squirrels, we ended up with almost two dozen bulbs. Four of those are elephant garlic, which are actually closer to a leek than garlic, and each bulc is about the size of a baseball.

The elephant garlic also had about a dozen little “thingies” growing on the bottom. They look like really hard, tiny cloves and a bit of research shows their often called “bulblets” or “korms.” We can replant them, but it will take two years for them to form into a full bulb. It’s worth a shot anyway.

I think the hardest part of growing garlic will be saving the nice cloves to make sure we have enough to plant next year. We’re not experts, but here’s the basic process of growing garlic:

 

1. Plant in the fall. One clove will produce a new bulb. Plant them pointy side up. We were probably a bit late by planting in early November, and this year we’ll aim for October.

2. In the spring, the plants emerge and leaves can get fairly tall. Our elephant garlic was probably about 3 feet.

3. Some varieties produce scapes, and you can cut those off (don’t let them flower) to use in cooking. We made a really good salad dressing from it. I’ll post that recipe later.

4. The garlic is ready when about half the leaves get brown/yellow and flop over. Don’t pull from the leaves, but rather dig up the bulbs with a trowel or small hoe.

5. You could use it right away, but if you want it to last all year it needs to cure. To do that, hang it in a cool place with decent air circulation for a couple weeks. It might take longer depending on humidity. Make sure to leave the leaves and roots intact.

6. After it has formed a papery skin, lightly rub off the dirt, trim the leaves to the top of the bulb (a little bit should stick up above the bulb) and trim the roots almost all the way down.

Our garlic hanging in the basement to cure.

Our garlic hanging in the basement to cure.

So far what we’ve used has been phenomenal. It tastes so much better than store-bought garlic and will definitely be a staple in our garden for years to come.

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Since we put everything in the ground, there’s not much to report and most of it seems to be doing well. I think the rain and warm, but not too hot, temperatures helped the plants along.

The broccoli has big healthy leaves, and a couple of plants are starting to form heads. The peas have sprouted and are starting to grow tendrils, and the row of radishes did so well it really needs to be thinned. Our lettuce is forming nice little leaves, and even the spinach has stopped looking like grass and grown its “true leaves.”

I keep waiting for the garlic to sprout its scapes, but so far it hasn’t happened yet. The four elephant garlic that survived are huge! They come all the way up to my hip, and I can’t imagine how big these bulbs will be, but we’re excited to find out!

We’re also discovering some mystery plants, and I’ll share those pictures later. If they are what I think then we’re going to be stocked on seedlings this year!

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Sometimes I can be impulsive, not always thinking things through before I do them. That’s what happened when I decided we should grow garlic.

It’s not that I just ordered them out of nowhere, I had been thinking about it ever since we made our marinara sauce with almost everything from the garden except the onions and garlic.

But I didn’t think ahead about where I was going to plant them or if there were any plants they shouldn’t be grown next to in the garden. But, that said, I think it’s going to turn out great.

We have three varieties: early Italian, elephant and Transylvania. Except for the elephant garlic, I don’t remember which is planted where.

What we learned

• I was a bit worried about whether it was too late to plant – we didn’t get to it until late November – but everything seems to be going well so far. That actually doesn’t matter as much as I thought, it just means they will take a little longer before they’re ready to come out of the ground.

It does matter, however, that they can set down some roots before it gets too cold.

• You can eat the “shoots” the garlic puts out in the spring. They’re called scapes and are apparently a very coveted item among farmers market foodies. I’m really excited to try some of these recipes.

• There’s a little more to saving the garlic than it seems. You have to cure the bulbs for them to form the papery skin everyone is so used to seeing. That also helps them last for months so you can use them as you need.

If it does well, you can pull your biggest and best cloves to plant next year.

• You can’t plant the cloves from supermarket garlic (yes, I Googled it). They’re treated with a chemical so they don’t sprout. We bought ours from Burpee and had them shipped to us.

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We love hot peppers and always have at least a few jalapeño plants in our garden. They’re usually our “golden crop” but didn’t do so well this year. There wasn’t anything wrong, per se, but they weren’t the prolific producers they had been in the past.

The beginning of the best hot sauce I've had. And it's all pretty much fresh from the garden.

The beginning of the best hot sauce I’ve had. And it’s all pretty much fresh from the garden.

Anyway, Matt’s parents also had a small garden this year and planted cayenne peppers. Though I’m not quite sure why — they don’t have a particular affinity for spicy foods. They know we adore anything hot & spicy and unloaded a bunch of cayenne peppers on us.

We were happy with the gift, but we were at a loss for how to use a dozen of them. A few were thrown in chili pots and used here or there for cooking. Even with that, we still had quite a few to use, along with some other jalapeños and Anaheim peppers that were starting to get wrinkly. That’s when I came upon this recipe for hot sauce. Ours is a variation because we had different peppers, but it was simple and delicious. Next year, we plan on reserving one or two of our new “pots” for cayenne plants so we can make this again.

(more…)

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We actually had a really good, big harvest from our green bean plants. The problem, however, is we only had one. And it came at the end of August.

Most of this is our fault. First, because we planted them too late — in June after the peas were done. Second, because we forgot to check them after the first bowl.

We also attribute some of this to the weird weather this summer. It was cooler than most summers and we had a lot of rain in July.

The Kentucky Wonder pole beans grew very well — some tendrils and leaves reached more than six feet tall and wrapped around our garage toward the tomatoes. But once they started to actually mature into beans, quite a few were bulging, which means they’re overly mature and could be tough (not good).

The good and the bad of our green bean harvest.

The good and the bad of our green bean harvest.

 

We made a delicious garlicky green bean sauté (recipe below) but wished we had more throughout the summer. On a positive note, the deer didn’t eat them like they have the past couple years.

So, what can be done better next year? We need to plant early! And check on them more often. I’d love to have a steady supply throughout the season.

Garlicky green beans

We had about a pound or so of the green beans, and this is an adaptation of a recipe I found. First, snap off the ends and de-string the beans. Then cut/trim to desired size.

Toss into a pot of boiling, salted water and cook for about three or four minutes. While those are cooking, add garlic to hot pan with oil. We used about four or five cloves of garlic.

Once the green beans are done, transfer from the boiling water to the pan with garlic and continue to sauté for another four or five minutes, stirring, until the green beans are crisp tender.

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It only took four days. That’s how long the deer “waited” before feasting on our newly planted vegetables. We planted the majority of our garden this past Sunday and after a couple days, everything seemed fine.

From bottom left: Tomato, spinach and zucchini all eaten by deer.

From bottom left: Tomato, spinach and zucchini all eaten by deer.

There was a little bit of a pepper leaf torn off, but not a big deal. Then, checking our garden this afternoon, we saw the full brunt of the damage, along with a few hoof prints left behind in the soil.

Our spinach was sheared to stems and the cherry/grape tomato plants were chewed to nubs. The deer also did a number on our pea and ate all but a couple leaves from both our zucchini plants. Oddly enough, they left the yellow squash alone. I also think it is a bit strange that for two months they never nibbled on the growing spinach, peas or lettuce and somehow decided this was the opportune moment.

So now we’re in full defense mode against these beasts, which, under any other circumstance, I don’t mind having around our house.

Mixed together with water, this helps deter deer.

Mixed together with water, this helps deter deer.

Here’s the plan:

Garlic and cayenne pepper. I tried this toward the end of last year and it seemed to work. I mix the powdered versions (what you buy in the spice aisle at the grocery store) with water and spray generously around and on the plants. I might even add egg or milk to the mix to help it stick to the leaves.

Mint. We’ll move our mint pot to the area we want to protect. Apparently the strong smell is not so pleasing to the deer.

Marigolds. It’s the same idea as above. The strong smell is supposed to keep the deer away. Probably buy several of these to put near each raised bed. Other plants could help and we might try those too.

We’ve bought two replacement zucchini and transplanted the others to pots and will do the same for the tomatoes. Last year the deer damaged tomato plants recovered a bit and actually produced some. The only positive to this situation is that the deer ate everything early. If it must happen, I’d rather it be now than when the plants are well established.

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