I think I have just harvested my all-time favourite vege crop.
I harvested 18 from under half a square metre of garden. I forgot to count how much we got from my parents bigger plot. Mine are a bit smaller than my parent's. I forgot to weed. They remembered. Garlic doesn't like competition. I also forgot to water regularly too. But they are still delightfully decent-sized clumps. Previous years have been a bit disappointing, a combination of poor maintenance, late planting and poor soils. This year, we've had better soil and (sometimes at least!) better maintenance. Also better seed garlic. The bigger the clove, the bigger the harvest. I'm learning not to plant pitifully tiny cloves. I'm learning to put the very best ones in (even though I really, really want to roast 'em instead!). This year, rather than spending a small fortune buying seed garlic from a garden centre (which we have done in the past), I bought some garlic from a local organic store. Being organic, it didn't have any growth-repressing stuff on it and it was really nice garlic. I chilled it for a few days. Only a few days because I forgot to do it early enough, and then some of it got zapped by my over-zealous fridge. Opps. It was so badly frozen it turned to mush. No germinating there. Some survived though, thankfully! You can see why I am so chuffed with our harvest, after such a poor start.
April till January. That's quite awhile to wait. But it does just do it's own thing for the most part. Plus it takes up next to no space. And then you get to eat amazingly fresh garlic that you grew yourself, all year round if you've planned it well. Not sure that I have quite enough for that. I do like a lot of garlic so I imagine that 18 clumps will not be enough. My parents have a whole lot more though, so maybe? We will be keeping a few big ones to plant again in April. May as well save ourselves the cost of buying seed again. Then next year I can eat garlic almost for free! Seeing as it costs $20/kg for NZ garlic in the shops, regardless of season, I figure that's a great cost saving. I know you can get garlic cheaper if you buy the Chinese grown stuff, but you just don't know what crazy things they are putting on it, so I only get the New Zealand grown variety. And now I grow it myself instead. When the leaves die down on the tops, I get out my fork and carefully dig it all up. Then it's a quick wash with the dishbrush in the kitchen sink, trim the roots off and tie it all up to dry. No fancy plaiting here. That's a bit beyond me at present. Just some string and a convenient hook. Then we wait while it dries a bit. And dream of garlic bread, chilli con carne, oven roast garlic, beans sauted in garlic, hummus and pesto....hmmm, garlic, garlic, garlic.
We now have a conservatory that smells vaugely of garlic. Every time I go to get my shoes or grab some pegs, I get attacked by garlic leaves. I don't mind the smell. And I don't mind the leaves. I just think about how scrummy that garlic is going to taste!