Saving garlic from summer heat!

In the blistering heat, gardening ain’t easy. But credit garlic with all kinds of restorative, intoxicating powers. By George Knowles

July 7, 2010 | | Blogs | Gardening at Larkspur Hollow | Leisure

The blistering heat of the last few days has resulted in a certain amount of garden lethargy.

Picking currants works at 6:30AM. My favourite occupation is hand-watering in the vegetable patch and not being too concerned if I get wet along with the lettuce. Weeding is a desultory occupation.

In short; I’m just letting things grow.

One thing that has been possible this year is an earlier-than-usual harvest of the garlic crop.

I cut the scapes off each plant about a month ago to focus plant energy in the bulb and not on flowering. The plants began to brown off at least three weeks earlier than 2009.

As is the usual practice, last year’s garlic was planted on Thanksgiving weekend and the new shoots were the first sign of life as the snow melted in the spring.

Now we are completing the cycle and putting aside a year’s worth of an essential ingredient for salads, pesto and a host of other dishes.

The first five rows have been dug and then left in the sun on the garden pathway for a few hours to dry off.

Then the soil is shaken from the roots and a “haircut” given to the mop of roots.

Stems are trimmed just below the remaining green leaves and the stalks provide the purchase for six or seven bulbs to be clumped together with rubber bands.

(Thank you Canada Post for the blue ones that come with the mail).

These are then hung up in the woodshed to dry before they are trimmed again to leave only the bulbs. These go down to the cold cellar in shallow cardboard boxes. Carefully sequestered are fifty of the biggest and best bulbs (usually about 300 cloves) to become the next planting in October.

For anyone who believes in the restorative powers of garlic to cure a multitude of ills, it would be like a visit to a naturopathic clinic to step into the woodshed and be intoxicated…or cured…by the aroma of the drying bulbs.

I’m prepared to credit garlic with all kinds of powers, but best of all are those that come with entry into the kitchen when it is being sautéed in olive oil.

The power of wonderful food to overcome fatigue and garden aches is magnified by garlic.

It is a necessity, and an easy one for any gardener to grow.

About the Author More by George Knowles

George Knowles gardens at Larkspur Hollow in the Hockley Valley.

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