It's time to pull up the garlic. We took out a third of our crop last night and left it out to begin to cure in the sun and fresh air (of course, it rained a bit last night--now I know another way to get it to rain when we need it).
Our garlic is beautiful and HUGE this year. Sometimes, I think we should forget everything else in the garden and just grow rows and rows and rows of garlic and maybe some flowers. It's tempting. It's the one thing we grow really well here. And we no longer have any idea what kind of garlics we have, so we're gonna have to call it the BumbleChick Mutt Garlic.
I absolutely love garlic. I use it in EVERYTHING. And it is so good for you: it's antibacterial, antifungal, anticancer, anti-everything-bad-for-you. (a clove a day, keeps the doctor away)
Garlic is ready to harvest when the plants begin to die off...or if you're slow like me, when they are completely dead. You pull up the garlic from the ground. They should come out nicely if you pull them straight up and out of the ground. You will want to cure the garlic in the sun for a day or so. After that, I usually tie the stalks together and hang them from the curtain rods in my kitchen for the winter. Though, last year, I put them all in a loose weave basket and kept them in that. I used loose weave so that the air would circulate nicely...and I made extra sure that the bulbs were cured before I put them in the basket.
You can then use the garlic through the winter, cutting a bulb off a stalk and using it as needed.
You can also plant the cloves in the fall for the next year--we use our best and most beautiful bulbs for replanting, so we are sure that we are reproducing the best of the best and we have the plants that obviously enjoyed being in our garden...in hopes that their offspring is adapted and happy in our environment.
Late in the winter, when the garlic starts to get softer, I take what is left of the cloves and peel them and cut them up into small pieces (about the size of peppercorns) and dry them really well in a low oven until they are completely dry. I used to just use the larger pieces of dried garlic in soups and pastas and etc., because I am too lazy to pound the dried pieces into a powder. But this year, I learned that I can put the dried garlic in a pepper grind and have fresh ground garlic to season EVERYTHING!!
I also make a tincture out of the garlic. A tincture is a concentration of a certain herb or blend of herb used for medicinal purposes. A tincture is easy to make. In the case of garlic, you will put pieces of cut up garlic in a jar and just cover it with cheap vodka. Let it sit in a cool, dark place for two weeks--if you remember, you can shake it up a bit, daily. Then strain the vodka out, so you just have the liquid and store it in a dark bottle or a dark place. (date and label the bottle, of course) I usually keep my tinctures for only a year, though the time you can keep them is debatable.
I use garlic tincture in my soapy water mix when I do battle with bugs in the garden!!--in which case, I wouldn't worry about expired tincture. Just a teaspoon or so for about a quart of water and soap. Bugs don't like garlic!
I also use garlic tincture when I feel something really awful coming on in the way of a cold or the flu. It's a last resort, as nobody wants to be around someone who's taken garlic tincture, so I try to take it at night. Though usually, by the time I resort to the garlic tincture, I feel so crappy, I don't care about anyone else! You can take a few drops up to a half teaspoon a few times a day. (Just remember, it is made with vodka...medicate responsibly!)
So, again, PLANT GARLIC THIS FALL!
And remember, only THREE more days until the Summer Contest Deadline!