Tag Archives: garlic

Hello October

One look at the farmer’s market this past week and you know that harvest time is upon us.  Besides the crowds of people who have suddenly descended upon the market (where are these people in June?), there are truckloads and tables full of the colorful produce of fall.  Here are some things I picked up this week at the farmer’s market:

Farmer’s market fare.

My own garden continues to provide us with fresh food.  Lettuce is back thanks to cooler temperatures.  Herbs continue to grow.  Leeks, potatoes, fennel, radicchio, swiss chard, kale and tomatoes have been gracing our table recently.

My kids have been out picking each raspberry as it ripens.  Every day they charge out the door shouting about who is going to eat the raspberries.  It will be nice next year when the plant is bigger and there will be more berries!

I’ve taken some photos during the last several weeks.  Here they are.

Here is some of the radicchio I grew this year. This was grilled and served with an anchovy dressing. Those little oily fishes are good for you!

Washing leeks. These leeks were used in homemade ravioli with a swiss chard and leek filling.

Spotted from our garden: a bright and beautiful remind of God’s love for us! This rainbow was one of the best I’ve ever seen. Look carefully and you’ll see the double rainbow above it.

My mother-in-law made basil jelly, which didn’t quite set right and was more like basil syrup. Turns out basil syrup makes a fantastic mojito!

I’m trying a new source for garlic this year. Seems more and more people are growing garlic lately–the first two sources I tried were sold out. Green Mountain had a nice variety.

Here is the garlic I will be planting in two weeks.

Yes, this is the little lemon tree that could! We were ready to send this thing to the compost earlier this year when it once again dropped all it’s leaves and blossoms and looked generally unhealthy. Instead we parked it on this spot and ignored it all summer. Lo and behold it prefers neglect. Healthier than ever. Now if we could only get it to grow a lemon…

Big bowl of kale chips. Our kale continues to be very productive. Thank goodness, because my kids (and husband) love these crunchy, salty kale chips. We’ve also used kale recently in soup and pizza.


Garlic Update

Remember a few weeks ago I was hanging my garlic in the garage to cure:

Here is my garlic 3-4 weeks ago.

Now the garlic has been brought in, cleaned and trimmed up for storage.  Looks pretty good.

Garlic is now ready to use.

I have a dozen or so bulbs in the garage curing, these were harvested later than this first group.  I’m not sure how long this garlic will last us (we use it up pretty quickly around here) but I’m happy with the crop this year, and the fact that I can cook with my own garlic.

I’ve already been using this garlic in dishes (including last night’s pesto) and so far it’s tasted great.

Growing Garlic

I’m a garlic girl through and through.  Truly.  If I was stranded on a deserted island in the middle of the sea, you can bet I’d ask for garlic.  To season the seafood I caught of course!  Along with olive oil, salt, pepper and lemons, garlic is my go-to ingredient, always in my pantry and (nearly) always in my food.  I just can’t enough.

So it makes sense for a gardener with a garlic bent to grow the stuff.  I first tried growing garlic two years ago, with okay results.  I planted in spring and had smallish but flavorful bulbs that season.  But it wasn’t the robust garlic crop I had hoped for.  So this year I’m attempting to redeem myself.

I started off this time by ordering garlic bulbs in the fall and planting them in early November.  (Wish I snapped a photo!)  This is so super easy, and much like planting tulips it takes a few minutes and the reward the following spring is worth many times the small effort put in during the fall.

Planting garlic is a breeze.  I just broke each bulb into cloves, and planted each clove just as I would a tulip bulb… about 6 inches deep, 10-12 inches apart.  A little mulch on top and they were ready for winter.

At the first sign of spring here in Wisconsin, garlic began to poke through the ground.

Garlic breaks through the ground.

As the season wore on, the garlic kept growing.  It is hard to mess this up… it doesn’t need a lot of watering or attention.  The only thing I did–which isn’t even necessary as far as I know–is to trim off the garlic scapes as they grew and began to curl around.  Doing this allows the garlic to put more energy into growing the bulbs, resulting in bigger more flavorful bulbs.  The added benefit of this practice is that I get to eat the garlic scapes, which are a delicious seasonal treat.

Garlic scapes.

The garlic scape is the flower of the garlic plant.

When the scapes curl around like this I cut them off the plant.

Garlic scapes are great in pesto.

Once the garlic starts to get that dried out brown look, it’s ready to harvest.  But a few weeks before, I pulled out a sample of young garlic (also called “green garlic”) to use with some salmon.  Unlike garlic in its’ familiar cured form, the green garlic is juicier without the papery wrapping around it.  It’s very fresh and the flavor is bright and spicy.

"Green" garlic and rosemary flavor this piece of salmon.

As for the curing process, I pull the garlic out of the garden when the green has turned 50-60% brown.  For a day or two I let the whole garlic sit out on the deck to air dry.  Once dry, I knock off the soil to prepare them for curing.  I’m going for mostly clean, but just rubbing the soil off–no rinsing with water.

At this point the garlic is tied up in bunches of about six and hung in my garage.  I put them in the garage because it’s outdoors but free of drafts and out of the sun.  The garlic stays in the garage for three weeks or until it has that papery garlic look and feel.

Harvested garlic dries on the deck and then is bundled and tied for curing.

String or twine works great.

This garlic will cure in the garage for approximately three weeks.

Once cured, I cut off the stems, dust off any more soil, and put them in an open box or basket for storage.  I keep my garlic in the basement and bring them up to the kitchen as needed.  Homegrown garlic tastes great.  I know where it was grown and what kind of soil was used.  And like most things you grow yourself, there is a good return on the investment.  I will get a few dozen bulbs that will last about six months.

Using the garlic is the best part.  During the growing season garlic finds its way into salad dressings and pestos.  I like to throw a whole bulb in with beets to roast in a foil packet.  Garlic goes great with poultry, fish and meats too.  In fact it’s hard for me to think of something I don’t love to eat with garlic.  It’s the perfect flavor to go with all those greens I grow.  Just sliced and sautéed in some oil, then throw the greens in.  Soups and stew, and especially sauces, salsa and bruschetta toppings are not complete without the addition of garlic.

While I’m sure there are more detailed instructions on how to grow garlic than I’ve provided here, I do think growing garlic is truly this simple and shouldn’t be over thought.  I remember when I thought there was some trick to growing garlic, but now I can see that it’s just a matter of planting in the fall and patiently waiting for nature to take its course.  Couldn’t be easier!

Photos from the third week of June.

Lavender is beginning to flower. Soon it will be attracting beneficial insects to the garden.

My honeysuckle has been attacked by aphids.

Garlic scapes are the flower stem of garlic. I harvest them and use them for pesto and salads. They have a light garlicky flavor.

Beet greens with water beads after a rain.

Fennel fronds hold beads of water after a rain.

Nasturtium leaves also make a nice resting place for water beads.

This rosemary plant is getting bigger by the minute, I've already harvested from it too! I'm so happy I decided to replace the rosemary I overwintered in the house. This one is much healthier.

I use this veggie bed to rotate crops during the season. Currently it has lettuce, tomatoes, peas, corn (which gets eaten every night, I wonder if we'll get any of it), beans, squash and garlic. Seem like alot? The peas, lettuce and garlic will soon be pulled to make more room for the other plants.

A look at the final baby robin to leave the nest as he contemplates taking the leap.

Photos from the third week of May.

Salad mix just picked from the garden and ready to take a spin in the salad spinner.

Momma robin has been sitting on the nest quite a bit.

Hidden Picture: Find the friendly backyard insect eater.

Leaf lettuce right out of the garden is fresh and nutritious.

Peppery, bright arugula is one of my favorite things to grow.

Lots of garlic is doing really well in the garden bed adjacent to the garage.

French breakfast radishes.

A few weekend photos.

We had a wonderfully warm day here on Sunday.  While I didn’t have any major gardening projects to do, we were outside enjoying our backyard.  I snapped a few photos.

Tulips which first appeard in mid-Februrary are very slow to show flowers. Perhaps the warm up here over the weekend will move things along.


Garlic is looking good! Can't wait to eat it in a few months.


Potting soil, manure, pea gravel... all elements of maintaining our backyard garden.

Photos from the fourth week of March.

The first garlic bravely pokes through the ground in 30 degree temperatures.


Chives are up, but have sustained some frost damage. Temperatures are forecasted to be below freezing for the next several days.