Over the past few weeks, the garlic greens have been turning brown and wilting back, signaling their ripeness for harvest. These cloves were planted early last winter as the first large crop at Leafhopper Farm. Five varieties were chosen, including 25 cloves of Leafhopper Farm garlic seed cultivated for the farm’s first two years. Organic Turkish Giants did the best, with 70 heads, followed by Conventional Deerfield Purple at 50 heads. Vietnamese Red (Organic) was third with 30 heads, though one planted location in the kitchen garden was somehow compromised and less than half of those cloves developed. Leafhopper Farm Garlic came in at 18 heads from the 25 cloves planted, not bad! The fifth variety was organic store bought garlic which had started sprouting in the kitchen and so, was encouraged into the garden to grow, which it did, though with little enthusiasm compared to the other varieties. It produces vert small heads which will not be replanted as seed.
There are an average of 12 cloves to a head of garlic, and I used 3 heads for each planting space. Turkish and Deerfield had two successful planting spots, each with three heads. Vietnamese had one bed fail, so considering only 3 heads survived from that planting, 30 heads is almost all the cloves planted, making it the most productive clove to mature head variety. It was closely followed by Turkish Giant. Because Deerfield Purple is conventional, it was not my favorite choice, but the cloves from this generation were grown without chemicals, and I hope to encourage only the healthiest cloves in the planting for next year’s crop.
All the garlic must cure now, allowing the moisture to leave the plant slowly. This invites all that rich flavor from the leaves and stalk, to be drawn into the bulb. That’s why this garlic still has its green tops on. In about a month, if the wether stays warm and dry, the garlic will cure and be ready for a final clean up and storage for winter. Another important note on garlic: it can bruise! That’s why I dig each clove out of the ground instead of just pulling it up.
This garlic will be used to feed the farm and keep worms out of the goats. Garlic is a very medicinal plant, with antiseptic qualities and wonderful disinfectant properties. In, The Complete Herbal Handbook For Farm and Stable, Juliette de Bairacli Levy explains how garlic is a great way to naturally deworm your goats and other animals, even yourself. She is my leading herbalist for veterinary care of my livestock using herbal medicine. If you are unfamiliar with her work, I suggest at least a quick google search of this amazing woman who brought traditional herbal medicine from “peasant” life into modern practice with wonderful results and her methods are still used on holistic farms all over the world to this day.