Have I talked about my love of growing garlic before? If i did.. its buried a few years ago, and it’s time to again. I grow way too much garlic. Way more than I or my family will use. In 2014 I harvested over 250 bulbs from our small kitchen garden. I did a TONNE of braiding that year. I don’t know why I love it. I think.. cause there’s a process and many steps over several months (3/4 of the year!) .. and it involves sowing, wintering, early growth (first growth you see, sometimes in January!) , 2 harvests (scapes & bulbs) then cooking/grilling, prepping, drying, braiding.. gifting… cooking with my own garlic! Each step has a sense of accomplishment.
If you want to know more about growing perennial hard neck garlic.. this is a great blogpost here.. that explains the scapes, bulblets, what happens when you don’t pull the bulbs.. when, why & how to plant. Very well written and documented.
It started about 10 yrs ago when my dear old Polish neighbour lady, Helen, was growing these interesting stalks in her flower garden alongside her driveway. They were green long leafy tall spikey things with these curlie queue heads. I discovered later they were hard neck garlic. She just let them grow between her roses, geraniums, hostas, daisies.. everywhere. She never pulled or cut off the scapes though.. they would straighten out, then flower, and leave seed heads, or Bulblets. One year I took a bulblet and scattered them in my rhubarb patch. Sure enough, the next Spring, I had garlic coming up. I left it, and the next year, I had more.. and in bunches. Eventually I googled ‘growing garlic’ and learned i needed to space them, to plant good sized cloves, and to plant them in late fall, same time as tulips. Thus began my garlic growing years.
The past couple of years, I’ve been growing them in my Hosta bed just like Helen, as well as a very neat row in my vegetable garden. I harvested all the bulbs from the Hosta garden last week, dried them, dry scrubbed them, cut off the roots, and braided them today.
Earlier this morning I harvested the veg garden bulbs which grew the biggest & best bulbs I’e ever had.. likely due to the rich and well drained soil, and consistent watering they received throughout the Spring. These will get dry scrubbed later today, and then dried in the garage for a few days before braiding.
Braiding Hard neck garlic is NOT impossible… but it’s a bit tricky… To be honest, I’ve never braided any other kind. You need to do it at just the right time, before the “necks” get too hard.. but are dry enough. I spent some time first breaking all the necks.
See the short video here: (and listen for the cardinal!)
I then laid out all the garlic in front of me smallest to largest, as each bunch was going to have one big one at the bottom, several medium, and some small heads, graduating in size.
At first I tried starting the braid with 3 heads, and adding in the remaining 6.. but that didn’t work too well. I learned that arranging all 9 heads together first, tying tightly as close to the heads as possible (I use old embroidery thread I still have from 30 yrs ago when I attempted to be a “Proverbs 31” woman who did handwork & crocheting. .. hahah.)
Result.. i have several braids done, now hanging in the garage ready to gift or use.
In other not so “exciting” news.. we have a veritable plague of japanese beetles in our backyard, that have nearly decimated our cherry tree.
I first noticed them about a week ago while taking laundry in off the clothesline.. about 6 or more on my sheets, in a mating frenzy. (ewwww) I told Guillermo right away, and he got the traps out. The traps are these green plastic accordion hanging baskets with a bright yellow T cross piece at the top that holds a piece of pheremone bait.
The beetles are attracted to the smell (especially when the traps are in sunlight) and they hit the yellow plastic side wall, and fall into the accordian basket.. and can’t fly out.
The first week after hanging both traps we were suprised to find both traps filled already. Then both traps filled in ONE day, then AGAIN in one day.. then in less than a day. The plague has officially arrived…
This big bucket is almost half filled with ONE days trappings, then soaked in hot soapy water, a lid on, then when they stop moving, Guillermo digs a hole and buries them out in the back 40. Ughhh.. shudder.
dead beetles in a bucket. (how’s that for a song title?)
Ugh.. it’s disgusting… If anyone knows of a way to deter them other than trapping, drowning and burying… please let me know! (hit play below to see today’s swarm)