Friday, September 17, 2010

Garlic Planting

Well, that cool-down was short lived! It soon went right back to being in the mid to high 90's, and the rain caused very high humidity making it even more miserable out there. The mosquitoes are also terrible. My neighbors all around me have a lot of junk in their yards that undoubtedly collects rain water and provides excellent mosquito breeding habitat. I haven't felt like doing much gardening lately.

I did manage to get started planting next year's garlic before things really heated up. I did it a bit early because the weather was so nice. I read that the best garlic planting time is on or just after the Autumn Equinox. I jumped the gun a little planting some of them in early September, but didn't manage to plant everything. For that I'll probably wait until we get another cold front, because I just don't feel motivated enough to endure the heat, humidity, and mosquitoes out there. Last year I planted my garlic in October, and most of them turned out OK, so I guess I still have plenty of time.

This year I've got some new varieties to try, thanks to a GardenWeb trade with a very generous trade partner. He sent me five more varieties of heirloom garlic (which is a lot more than what I actually asked for). Top row pictured is Lorz Italian, Ajo Rojo, and Inchelium Red. The bottom row is two bulbs each of Sonoran and Shilla.

Sadly, when I was looking over my "seed garlic" saved from my last harvest, Bogatyr was all rotted. I pulled out the bulbs I set aside for planting, and they squished in my hand. I immediately dug out the Bogatyr I had set aside for eating, stored in a mesh onion bag in a kitchen cabinet, and it was also all squishy. I know that hardnecks in general don't store as long as softnecks, but they have to at least store until replanting time, right? What a shame!

Next I checked out the garlics that didn't do that well for me the last time around: Chrysalis Purple, Pskem River, and Persian Star.
If you'll remember from my garlic harvest post, Persian Star yielded 15 small bulbs that at the time I didn't feel were worth eating, and suspected had not even divided since they were so small. Well, I was wrong. Once I started unwrapping the bulbs, I found undersized, but still fully formed cloves. I ended up cracking open all 15 bulbs just to make sure, and then picking out 40 of the biggest cloves for replanting. The rest of the cloves went into the food dehydrator since I thought now that they've been unwrapped they won't keep well. Also I didn't want them to rot like their fellow Purple Stripe, Bogatyr. I have high hopes that Persian Star will adjust to my growing conditions and I'll get descent-sized bulbs next year. It's such a beautiful variety that I really don't want to give up on it.

I can't complain about Pskem River too much either. I only got three bulbs, but that's because one of the bulbs I received from SSE was rotten and this variety doesn't have a lot of cloves per bulb. I went ahead and replanted all of them. Shown is the unwrapped largest bulb, which was a good size. The other two were undersized but had still matured and divided into cloves, similar to Persian Star.

The worst garlic, Chrysalis Purple, the one I finally pulled in July because I was just tired of waiting, didn't get a chance to divide. I unwrapped all my bulbs and all of them were solid like this one. I'm really not sure if they're worth replanting. What happens when the garlic life cycle is interrupted? I set these aside and haven't replanted them yet. I'm saving my planting room for more promising varieties, and might just stick CP in where I have some spare space after everyone else is in the ground.

In addition to planting Persian Star and Pskem River right away, I also planted some of my new varieties. Sonoran and Shilla are both reputed to not store for a long time, so I decided to plant them early as well. I noticed my Georgian Fire is starting to get a bit of green to them, meaning they're about to sprout. I went ahead and planted my GF planting stock and am trying to eat up the rest before my other eating garlic.

The rest of my garlic varieties don't seem to have any sign of rotting or sprouting yet, so I didn't feel any urgency to plant any of them. I had some extra room left in the bed I had prepared, so I went with Lorz Italian since I only have one bulb of that.

I also couldn't resist unwrapping Ajo Rojo, a Creole variety, which I heard are some of the most beautiful garlics. Peeling away the white outer wrapper revealed a perfect single ring of cloves in beautiful rose-colored wrappers. I'm very grateful to my swapping partner for sending me such cool garlic varieties! Creole garlic is supposed to keep well, so I'm in no hurry to plant these, but I guess since it's unwrapped now I should plant it next.

The problem is that to plant any more garlic, I'll have to till up some more dirt. Not looking forward to doing that in the mosquito-infested sauna out there. You saw what I had to go through to plant my potatoes! Ugh. But with such a homogeneous forecast for the next 7 days, with no sign of any relief from the heat and humidity, maybe I'll just have to hunker down and get it done.

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