It's Garlic Time!
© Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co.
It's up and out for the garlic bulbs at Baker Creek garden.
(2 years ago Baker Creek was gifted over 300 varieties of garlic from Dr. Jeff Nekola from The University of New Mexico. Baker Creek has been working hard to reproduce and preserve the collection. Dr. Nekola is an avid gardener and is responsible for an large online heirloom vegetable database that you can view here.)
Harvest started in early June and is now nearing completion, filling the warehouse with fresh garlic smells as bulbs line the rafters.
“It will about five weeks to harvest all of it,” said Martin, a Baker Creek employee who is helping with the harvest. “Production was very much a team effort.”
Martin, along with Linda and Wilma and others at Baker Creek came together to make it a great year for garlic on the farm.
Planting and lifting multiple bulbs from 300 varieties is no easy task and needs special care.
“You need to handle garlic carefully, like you would an egg,” he said.
If not, the garlic risks being bruised which can reduce its shelf-life.
Home gardeners will start harvesting garlic in the coming months, usually between July and August in most parts of the country.
Martin credits Baker Creek's early harvest to a bio-degradable plastic mulch deployed at the farm.
“In my opinion that really made a difference this season,” he said.
This system, which finds long strips of plastic laid over the growing area, with small holes cut in it to allow plants to grow, keeps weeds from growing around the plant, holds moisture in the soil and keeps the ground warmer, longer early in the season. All this combined to give the Baker Creek garlic a jump start early this spring.
Martin said home gardeners should watch for the bottom leaves to die back, this indicates when the bulb is nearly ready for harvest.
“Then I check the rest of the leaves. If they are dark green then I know they are still nourishing the bulb,” he said.
But, once those leaves start to lose their color then harvest is very near.
Garlic can be eaten immediately or cured for storage. To cure the bulb, gently pull it from the ground and brush dirt off the bulb and roots.Then place the garlic in a cool, dry and dark location that provides good airflow around the bulb. This can be accomplished by hanging bulbs or placing them on a grate of mesh table top.
Allow the bulbs to cure for at least three weeks. After that trim the roots off the bottom of the bulb back to about ½ inch and all but two to three inches of the top leaves.
If handled properly garlic will last for many months after harvest.