I started cleaning the garlic about ten days ago . For the stiff necks that involves cutting the roots and the stalk and peeling back to a clean bulb. For the softnecks which I like to braid I do the same but leave the stalk or more accurately the leaf sheath. By the time I’m done with this task there are paper skins blowing all over the yard and stacks of stalks. It is a mindless task that puts me in touch with the crop and helps me decide what to plant for next year.
My Spanish Roja was a disappointment this year. Usually these are my largest bulbs, but they never quite made it to largeness. I suspect this has two causes. #1 I used my own seed stock and not the large bulbs from Filaree Farm. #2 I don’t think the nutrition was right and this holds true for the whole crop. Hopefully I will get it right this year. More on that later.
These hardneck varieties will only be fresh until Christmas so I need to use them first. And within the hardnecks different varieties last longer than others. The porcelains outlast the purple stripes and the purple stripes outlast the rocamboles. I am eating rocamboles now.
I have decided to drop some varieties this next year. For my climate, anyway, they just are not working. Goodbye to Nootka Rose and Oregon Blue. Both are softnecks that come in small and discolored every year.
The new varieties I tried last year were Pskem, Khabar, Sandpoint, Polish Hardneck, Sicilian and St. Helens. They all thrived with the exception of the St. Helens, a silverskin, that I harvested too early.