I harvested our small garlic crop in the middle of a torrential downpour last week. It had been raining for over a week and when I walked past the garden to let the chickens out, I realised just how much water was in the garden. I knew if I didn't take them out they would rot in the ground. When I walked back to the verandah, they were in my hand. They were planted from local garlic bought from Green Harvest back in July. It's not really the right climate for garlic here, but we still grow it knowing the bulbs will be small. The alternative is Chinese garlic and that's not an option for us. The result might be small but they're juicy and delicious.
Garlic is one of our important solo crops. If it grows well, it gives us enough garlic to see us through six months. What I call a solo crop is one that we grow once or twice a year and the harvest from those crops gives us enough of that vegetable for six months to a year. We also grow pumpkins and luffahs like that.
The trick to these types of crops is to know you can store them safely and that they'll last in good order for a long time. The luffahs are never a problem. They dry on the vine or shortly after harvesting, you peel off the crackly skin and you have loofahs to use all year. I soak our luffahs in a weak solution of bleach and water before drying them again and putting them in the cupboard with the towels. Whenever a new one is needed, they're waiting. Pumpkins must be harvested with a long piece of vine still attached to the top, then carefully taken to a drying area in the sun to dry out for a week or so. You have to watch out for rain and bring the pumpkins to shelter if it does rain. After they dry out, you can store them in a cool, dry, dark place that is rodent-free. Care needs to be taken as you move the pumpkins because you don't want to damage the skin. If you want the pumpkins to last six months, they must be unbruised and have the skin perfectly in tact.
The bulbs above will be broken apart and replanted.
The tied up garlic will be stored, those in the middle used right away and those on the right, replanted.
These are now hanging on the outside bedroom door. I doubt we'll have any vampires visiting us. ; - )
And the garlic? Well, they have to be washed to remove any dirt, and left to dry for a few days. Then I sort them into those suitable for drying and storing, those to be used straight away - these are the small bulbs or any that are damaged, and I have a group of bulbs for replanting. The garlic to be stored is tied in bunches with natural string/twine and hung them to dry out even more. Eventually they'll be brought in the house and stored in a cool dark cupboard.
So that's our garlic sorted for the next six months. Hanno will plant the new garlic in the next week or two and they'll be ready in winter.