Harvesting garlic at Sol Feliz Farm

20140723-163645-59805678.jpgWe have been noticing that it is time to harvest garlic.  We watch the scape straighten out and the seed-head with it gets more defined (you can see individual seeds inside the scape-skin forming).  Some of our scapes are breaking open and the seeds look like they are holding on but getting ready to jump out.  So it is time to harvest the garlic, at least for the five rows we brought in as shown in the picture above.  We will have to harvest the other garlic later as it looks like it can wait a few more days or a week.  I already harvested one row that was more mature than all of these as I planted it about two weeks in advance of the others.  We should have planted in October/November of 2014 but did not get these into the ground until late December and mid January.  But this garlic knows who it is and what it has to do so the only way we can mess it up is by not getting it the ground…

This garlic is representative of my, (Miguel Santistevan’s) progress and approach to agriculture.  I started out by gaining the friendship of one of my greatest teachers, Maximilliano Garcia.  He taught me about garlic and then asked me if I wanted some.  We went out into his field and found about eight wild and very small bulbs.  He instructed me to separate the cloves from the bulb, plant them about 6 inches apart (he quickly showed me the spacing between his fingers as opposed to telling me “6 inches”), and give them lots of water.  He told me to watch the scapes straighten out and harvest them before they break open as whatever the scape is doing, the bulb of garlic will be doing next.  From those humble beginings I now have an empire of garlic.  But it has taken me 11 years to get to this point.  I had the capability to produce this volume in about 3 years by replanting most of my garlic as opposed to eating it.  If you are lucky enough to get my garlic, know that it is the hottest, the strongest, and the oldest garlic you have likely ever had.  It is now wild in my field.  It is the original ‘Spanish Roja’ hardneck garlic that could more be considered a specialty crop in its quality and nature.  Hello flavor, goodbye sickness, garlic is in the house!

After we took this picture, the bundles of 20 garlic plants, held by twine from the neck of the scapes, were hung by the rafters in my adobe garage to cure for about 3 weeks.  In three or four weeks the flavor really sets in and the skins develop so it is easier to peel.  We left much of the soil on the roots of the garlic to aid in the curing process, it can be said that the garlic is still alive and pulling nutrient from its soil or at least still relating to the soil organisms in the soil/garlic root zone…



About Miguel

Miguel Santistevan is a researcher, educator, and advocate for traditional agriculture crops and systems.
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