Garlic photos and garlic harvesting information from: http://www.kitchengardeners.org/
I have learned something this summer; garden plants love water. My garden is doing amazing! It struggled during our wet, wet July but it hung on. Then the rain stopped, the sun shone, the heat came, and my garden exploded. This week I was lucky enough to harvest tons of beans, beets, herbs,lettace, chard, spinach, yellow squash, and thinned lots of leeks. Cherry tomatoes finally came! As did basil. Onion tops are falling over, telling me they will be ready to harvest soon. But I've been using them fresh in some cooking and they are wonderful.
Had a great brunch this morning for Ger's last day of his vacation. Made some excellent home fries with Yukon Gold and red potatoes (I forget which ones they are), onions, leeks, garlic, and a hot pepper. Yummy! Also made spinach, tomato, shallot, and basil omelets and had some wild blueberries in milk. Now I have to mention that with the heat and humidity of the past few days cooking and baking would not have been enjoyable if it wasn't for an invention that we tend to take for granted, air conditioning. 3 years ago we put in a few window air conditioners during a long and excruciating heat wave. And every time we use them I am so very thankful for them. But we use them very rarely. Air conditioning is very energy intensive using a lot more electricity than ceiling fans and portable fans. So they should be used very sparingly. For us when we are having temps of 90 F or above for more than a day than that's when we turn the AC on. Here is a website with some interesting information about air conditioning and energy: http://michaelbluejay.com/electricity/cooling.html I hope you take a minute to look it over as it may give you some alternatives to air conditioning that you may be comfortable trying.
It's blueberry season here in Maine and Maine is the nation's producer of wild blueberries. There is nothing like pancakes, muffins, and pie made with wild blueberries. And of course they are delicious to just eat as they are and on cereal. High bush blueberries are delicious and they are the type of blueberries that home gardeners grow but they are not tiny wild blueberries. Like other berries they are so easy to freeze. Just layer a single layer of fresh blueberries on a cookie sheet and pop in the freezer for a few hours. Then pop them into a freezer bag and you've got blueberries for winter use.
Today it became clear that it's time to begin major harvesting of garlic, onions, and potatoes. But how do we know when it's time to harvest these plants? Below is a posting that I read today about the controversy over the timing of garlic harvest. Yes, you read that correctly; garlic harvesting can be controversial! Now that's controversy that I like! Basically when the tops of some root plants such as garlic, onions, and potatoes are falling over and/or turning brown it's time to get them out of the ground. I begin harvesting onions when the tops fall over, garlic when the tops are turning brown and are shriveling up, and potatoes when the leaves are browning and looking like they are dying. Harvesting is different than picking. I pick, or dig, throughout the summer. Grabbing an onion or garlic as I need it, or digging up a potato plant when I want some potatoes.
From kitchengardens.org: Plants tell us a lot with their leaves. In the case of garlic, they tell us when the bulb is ready for harvest. Or do they?
Scanning some of the literature written by expert growers, we saw differing opinions on what harvest signs we should be looking for:
Garlic is mature when the tops fall over (mid July to early August).
-Eliot Coleman, Author of the Four Season Harvest
When half to three-quarters of the leaves turn yellow-brown, it's harvest time.
-Organic Gardening Magazine
Each green leaf above ground represents a papery sheath around the cloves. Once the leaf tips begin to yellow and die back, its time to dig the garlic. The lower six to eight leaves still being fully green indicate optimal harvest timing: This allots 5 to 7 protective wrappers around the bulb after curing. Our harvest here in northern New Hampshire begins the latter part of July and gets completed by the first week of August.
-Michael Phillips, Heartsong Farm
It's time to harvest garlic in the late summer when the bottom two or three leaves have turned yellow or the tops fall over.
-Ed Smith, author of the Vegetable Gardener's Bible
Harvest in summer when the bottom leaves are beginning to yellow and before more than one or two leaves turn brown (July through August).
-University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension
Fully green, yellow, or brown: so who's right? Well, in a way, you could say that all of them are. It depends on what your garlic goal is. The longer you wait, the larger the bulb. The danger in waiting too long is that the bulb will start to split apart into individual cloves. If Michael Phillips urges an earlier harvest when the plant is still upright and showing a lot of green, it's because he has a different goal: long term storage. An earlier harvest helps insure that the garlic cloves are "well-wrapped" for fall and winter feasts.
One surefire way of knowing whether your garlic is ready is to dig up a test bulb. If it's a decent size and seems well formed, then you can harvest the rest of your crop with confidence.
On a slightly different note: I had some good news about my tomato plants that I thought had Late Blight. I sent photos of of them to the county extension service and found out that they didn't have Late Blight after all! So I didn't need to rip the plants up. Which is great since they are producing a ton of cherry tomatoes. They do have a fungus which is a problem but at least it's not Late Blight.
Well, I wanted to post a recipe but haven't decided which one I want to put here. When I decide I'll post it. I'm thinking I'm going to use some potatoes to make gnocchi this week and if it goes well I'll post that. Because it's pretty tough to have something more delicious than well made gnocchi.