Garlic Harvest!

I have been waiting for this moment since last fall–the moment of truth:  how did my garlic turn out this year?  In general, the answer is pretty darn well!  I was pleasantly surprised to see that the varieties that I grew last year, and used to plant this year’s stock, adapted well and produced larger bulbs than last year.  The new garlic varieties did ok, but one variety in particular was pretty small.  I ordered my seed garlic from Territorial Seed Company, which is in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, a much different climate than my inner continental Rocky Mountain garden.  I’m sure that they will adapt to my climate even better next year and give me larger bulbs.  Hubby is laughing at me because I am gathering data on bulb size this year–but I like to know how things progress (or regress) from year to year!  I will post stats once I get all my data crunched.  I wish I’d collected data last year, but I was late in harvesting, and was rushed trying to get it cured and out of the carport so we could park our car out of the elements again.  This year I was able to take over a shelf in our new shed, much to Hubby’s dismay.

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This variety is Turkish Giant, a new one for me this year.  Although the bulbs are fairly large, I don’t think they have reached their full potential.  Time will tell (with data!) how big they can get in my climate.

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The inside of our new shed with my garlic curing on the shelves.  Hubby just got these shelves installed yesterday, and I harvested the garlic last night, so the garlic was literally the first thing to go in the shed.  It smells delicious in there!

One thing I love about gardening is the potential to learn something new each season and to adapt my gardening techniques to make things better.  Last year I didn’t stop watering my garlic early enough, and I was too late in harvesting, so not only had I lost most of my bulb wrappers because the leaves had already died, but what wrappers were left were damp and took a long time to cure.  My softneck garlic stored very well despite inadequate bulb wrapper protection (I still have a few bulbs in the basement that aren’t totally soft yet), but I think with a few extra layers my garlic should store longer this year. 

Hubby was shaking his head at me Sunday night because I was out in the dark harvesting my garlic.  I didn’t get started until 8:30, and I finished up around 10:30, so it was good and dark by the time I made my last haul of garlic to the shed.  But there was a chance for rain today, so I wanted to get it out of the ground.  And I’m glad I did because at 3:30am this morning, we got rain.  And it just started raining again.  My garlic is nice and safe and dry!

It’s been busy around here lately!  After building the chicken coop Hubby decided he wanted no part in building another structure any time soon, so he ordered a Tuff Shed.  Hubby and I built a nice level pad for it in our sloping backyard, and the guys installed it within 4 hours!  Waaaaaay faster than what Hubby could ever dream of doing! The CSA pick up is tomorrow and I spent a few hours yesterday putting together some recipes in the newsletter.  I’ve been doing a lot of cooking this week, and I have recipes to post, I just need to find some time to do it! 

The garden is going crazy–tomatoes are coming on, I have bell peppers that I could actually harvest as green bells, but I want to wait for the red, yellow, and orange to appear (yum), I’m harvesting some carrots, a few potatoes, chard, snow peas, lettuce, I’ve got some broccoli showing up, and…my orange and lemon trees are blooming!  I’ve got 2 really nice lemons ripening that should be ready this fall, but I’ve got several flowers on each tree opening up, so I should get several fruits out of them.  My lime tree is growing, as is my fig and pineapple.  I may not live in a tropical climate, but by gosh, I’m going to grow tropical fruits!  Isn’t the orange flower pretty?

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Over the weekend I rebuilt one of the rock walls in our orchard terrace.  The lowest wall had collapsed many years ago (long before we bought the house), and I finally made myself go dig up the buried rocks and rebuild it.  It took me an entire afternoon (it was hot and the chickens were enjoying the bugs and worms that came up with the shovelfuls of dirt, so I had to work around those minor delays) but it looks really nice now.  I need to do a little work on some of the upper terrace walls, but I have plenty of leftover rocks, so all I need to do is stack them up and fill in with some dirt.  With that done we will have space for about 4 more dwarf fruit trees.  I’m slowing weeding the rest of the terrace, but it’s slow going.  This year I’m just trying to prevent the invasive weeds from setting seeds to make my job a little easier next year.  I think within a couple more years the terrace will be in pretty good shape–and we’ll have ourselves the beginnings of a very nice orchard.  We’re starting to feel like we have a bit of an urban homestead now and we’ve been getting a lot of compliments on the garden, the chicken coop, and how we are sprucing up our place in general from neighbors and passersby on the sidewalk.  That makes us feel really good and keeps us motivated to keep up the work, even when we can’t seem to see the progress some days.  Progress is slow sometimes, but the results are very satisfying.  Especially when you can literally eat the fruits of your labor!

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