This November was all about starting the garlic harvest for 2 folk, the dog and the tractor.
Garlic harvest This year on the advice of older and wiser commercial garlic growers we delayed our harvest by 2 weeks. It was a long wait, harder to take as we entered the last month of spring here, when rain is most likely to occur, and you try not to pull garlic in wet conditions. We persevered and I think our garlic will store better. It was a mixed result for the bulbs this year. The drought conditions have resulted in smaller bulbs than previous years.
The learning curve has been very steep. It’s quite a different ball game to grow garlic out in the paddock compared to in the veggie patch. I imagine this is the case with any fresh produce. This year we take away a long list of lessons covering every aspect of the growing cycle, from bed preparation through to hanging the garlic for curing.
All good produce relies on good soil. Good soil actually takes time to create. There are no fast fixes, spreads or sprays that will encourage organisms and biota to take up residence, work their magic and multiply in abundance if the conditions are not suitable. Don’t get me wrong, we have not finished throwing humus, compost or fertiliser at the garlic patch. You can’t grow something in soil without it extracting something from the soil that will need replenishing. Our lesson has been it’s never too early to start feeding the beds, with anything, preferably organic, you have to hand. So no sooner have we harvested the garlic that we are now starting to prep the beds for next years crop. This year I will apply more compost (our household bokashi and garden compost), more fertiliser in the form of biomungus, humic and mineral inputs and seaweed and fish emulsion products. We have not invested in a wormery as we had a bokashi compost system in use, however this year I think for every compost application I will apply worm castings, in the hope we might encourage more soil biota. Another trial will be spraying a molasses solution, a sugar hit for the soil.
One of the big leaps forward for domestic growers and consumers alike is the awakening to the joys of fresh garlic. Given the breadth of this land, Australia is in a rather remarkable position of being able to enjoy fresh garlic all year round. Until now we just did not know it, why? For my 2 cents worth, because the supermarkets and the government funded overseas suppliers had us accepting cured garlic as the only option. It stores and travels better – for a fresh food this is gold in commercial terms – just not for the consumer.
With the uptake in interest in fresh garlic, we found ourselves prepping the bulbs before harvest officially started. Spring or Green garlic is a delicacy that has such a short window of availability it gets snapped up. But as growers around the country start to plant a wider variety of garlics there will be more opportunities.
Fresh garlic has a colour and smell to it that is truly delectable. Softer in flavour when raw it is so very versatile. The whole bulb is used, there is no need to peel the cloves as the skin is still fleshy and has not turned papery, as it should do when cured correctly.
Book List November
This month I discovered Audible, a service that reads books to you, what luxury! Although I will say I read faster than the person speaks, it is a fantastic way to immerse yourself into a book. I listened to ‘Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine’ by Gail Honeyman, read by Cathleen McCarron. The novel is set in Scotland, so to hear it read with a Scottish accent really put me in the novel. Wonderful story, deeply insightful, laugh out loud funny and moments of tears and pain. The central character, Eleanor Oliphant is so rich and complex, you fall in love with her and look at your friends with a bit more kindness.
You aside, no one is carefully keeping track of your idiocies.
School of Life, cards on Resilience 2018