Harvesting alliums

We always talk about starting a gardening notebook, but somehow the talk never materializes onto paper. Lacking a decent notebook, we often refer to the blog for gardening dates from previous years.

Looking back on our garlic harvest for the last few years we find the following trend:

This year we harvested all our garlic on July 15th and we were disappointed to find that about half the elephant garlic had already started to split. We obviously should have pulled it around July 1st, because as it is we will have to use many of the heads or replant them. Split heads don’t store well. Ali suggested that we try pickling some of it, which I thought was a good idea. I will have to see how much I have to work with after it dries.

The normal garlic we harvested was perfect. There were only two split heads so we dug them at the right time. Lee was hoping the garlic would be bigger but I thought they were fine. This was our best season for weed control. Next year we will try to side dress with fertilizer at the right times, so that might further improve the harvest. All in all, we are very happy with the 2012 garlic though. It is one of our favorite crops to grow as it doesn’t seem to have any pests and doesn’t require much fussing.

Preparing garlic for storage is pretty straightforward. We tie the whole plants into bundles and hang them outside to dry. They should get plenty of air movement but no direct sunlight. Lee has been talking about adding hooks under the tractor port roof so we can dry many more bundles at the same time. After the stems brown we cut off the roots and stems and peel off the dirty outer layers. After a bit more drying, I plan to store the garlic in old onion bags.

This is the first year that we have had a decent onion crop. Yay for compost and tillers! We planted red onions from onion sets this spring and harvested the crop on July 21st. If you leave onions out too long the centers start to separate and the onions won’t store well. Of course, red onions don’t store well anyway. Preparing onions for storage is apparently very similar to preparing garlic. Presently the onion bundles are hanging indoors since the garlic is taking up all our free space outside.

When we finish peeling and trimming all the elephant garlic and red onions, there are six rows of Copra storage onions still waiting to be harvested. It’s somewhat overrun with weeds, but the heads are good sized so we are still calling it a success. If we can grow five times as many onions next year, we might be close to meeting our yearly onion needs.

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5 Responses to Harvesting alliums

  1. Please add the follow widget to your pages so I can follow your posts as you enter them. I love all blogs related to farming.

    • lee says:

      I don’t know what widget you want. I think most people just subscribe to our RSS feed. If you use a blog reader of some type, you should be able to just type in our site’s URL and it will find the feed for you.

  2. Woody says:

    That’s some good looking garlic.

  3. Pingback: Red onions and garlic | Farm Folly

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