Monday, March 2, 2015

Too Late? Time Will Tell

For the first time since I started growing our own garlic about five years ago, I did not get my garlic planted last fall. Normally I put the cloves in the ground in October; and, well, with DS1 & Co. moving in, October 2014 was a hectic mess at this little place here .  I think shell shock is the best way to describe how October went for all of us.  In the interest of survival at the time, I had to be really flexible in my normal schedule.

When, in late November with frozen ground, I realized my garlic sowing omission, I was not at all happy.  But, what could I do?  It was too late to plant, so I just tried not to dwell on the fact that I would have no garlic to harvest in 2015, and would have to start over with purchased (rather than homegrown) seedstock this coming Fall.  I tried not to dwell on it, and tried not to be bitter about it. . . "One more thing I sacrificed for them that they cannot even comprehend". . .

Until a few days ago, when DH was flipping through channels on the TV and came across something on PBS that appeared to be short bits on people who make decent money from their own small properties.  Microgreens.  Herbs and cut flowers.  Garlic and onions.

Microgreens he had no clue about.  Herbs and cut flowers, that was too foo-foo.  But garlic and onions!!  His brain seized on that--My wife grows all our garlic and onions; maybe she could grow more and sell them!!

Which was when I woefully had to tell him that there would be no garlic this year, and that I had all ready ordered our seedling onions.  Although I could always amend my onion order--it doesn't ship until early May--the garlic really was a no-can-do because the planting season ended four months ago.

Why couldn't I plant my seed garlic in the Spring, he wanted to know; and so I had to explain how in Michigan you have to plant garlic in the Fall because garlic planted in the Spring doesn't develop large enough heads to be worthwhile.  If I waited until the ground warmed up enough, say Aprilish, to plant my seed garlic (which I had sorted and saved from the harvest in July, just never planted), we would end up with little teeny garlic heads that would be impossible to peel the paper wrappers from the cloves.

That was when DH proposed an experiment:
  1. Plant my seed garlic cloves now, in the same sort of containers I use for my seedlings that will get transplanted to the garden at the proper time.
  2. Put the containers with the planted cloves in the cellar, where it is cool but not cold enough to freeze them, and see if they grow roots and shoots in the next month.
  3. As soon as the first patch of gardening ground thaws, transplant my (hopefully) growing garlic outdoors.
  4. Harvest garlic in late July, as usual, and see how big the heads turned out.
That way we at least have some garlic for our own use and won't have to buy 100% of the garlic we consume.

So, that is what I have been up to lately; getting my Great Garlic Experiment underway. They are planted. They are in the cellar. Next month I will transplant them outside. Now only time will tell if I get any sort of normal garlic harvest for 2015.

garlic, 1 clove per cup, ready for the Great Garlic Experiment

Meanwhile, I need to start looking into what varieties of garlic I want to order for Fall planting this year.  My seed garlic from last year's harvest that I just planted, got all jumbled together and lost their ID tags in the combining households chaos .  All I know for sure is that most of what I just planted was hardneck.  I'd like to know for sure which variety is which for future harvests.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a good experiment. I thought they had to freeze a bit to split into cloves rather than one big bulb.