So we arrived Friday evening, planning to get a good start on the harvest, but we were on the fence as to whether the garlic was ready, or whether we should wait a week. Normally we look for about four dried leaves on the bottom of the plant, but in any row you’ll have some plants that are farther along, and some that could use more time in the ground. This debate goes on each year – be safe and take it out now, or let it go for a while longer, hoping for a big rain followed by some dry sunny days (much easier and cleaner to harvest when the earth is dry). Ultimately we took out all of the Italian Red on Saturday. It was a good time to do it as all the Bosch siblings (Tina, Jenny, Darren, me) were gathered, along with four of my nephews, one niece, Darren’s wife Eve, and Jenny’s husband Paul. Darren ended up perfecting the pitchfork technique for loosening the soil under the garlic so it can be pulled out easily. He also posed, with Tina, in “American Garlic”.
It’s our second year growing Italian Red. It’s an artichoke (i.e., several layers of clovers, and no scape), and it tends to be ready to pull before the hardneck garlic. Taking it out was the right decision, as we found generally large, well formed, purple-hued bulbs, as in the photo. It has an exquisite taste – not overpowering, yet very garlicky. Made collard greens in the cast iron skillet tonight with two cloves sauteed a little in olive oil, a little salt, and a little hot pepper. Couldn’t get enough. We pulled about 1,700 Italian Red bulbs.
I also finally put screens in windows of the barn where we cure (i.e., dry) the garlic, something I’d been planning to do but hadn’t gotten around to. When the garlic is hung to dry, it needs good ventilation. Sunday, after five of us ran the Millers’ Mills 5K nearby, it was a little harder to round up help, but we got 650 Riesig bulbs out – from medium (2″) to jumbo (over 3″) in diameter, and nice and dry (see picture).
It was high summer and beautiful this weekend in the Mohawk Valley. Hoping next weekend has similar conditions, as I’d love get the remaining 7,500 bulbs out and up to dry.