19 August 2023

Garlic harvest

It's been a while, but I thought I'd better blow off a few cobwebs and start posting here again. A lot has happened since I last wrote a post, in late 2020, a lot of it rather sad. We lost my mother-in-law on her late husband's birthday in 2021 and then last year, on his wife's birthday, my dad died as a result of a stroke he suffered during the exceptional heatwave in July.

The last time I spoke to Dad was the day I harvested the garlic in 2022 and I generally plant the garlic around the time of his birthday in October, so the plant is going to be forever linked to memories of Dad in my mind.

I harvested the crop a little later this year: it's been a cooler, wetter summer than the average, and the bulbs weren't ready to pull until early August.

I plant around 40 cloves in one of the raised beds. The garlic keeps fairly well in the basement for about six months, but after that, it gets inedible, so this year I decided to try pickling some of the crop to keep it a bit longer.

After it had been curing for a couple of weeks, I reserved ten garlic heads for replanting in October, and chose another ten heads for storing and use over the next few months.

Then it was just a small matter of peeling the cloves of the remaining 20 heads of garlic. Mike gave me a hand, so this didn't take too long.

This quantity of garlic cloves weighed just over a kilogram before we peeled them. They filled one quart jar and one pint one and needed about 600ml of vinegar (yep, still using a hopeless mixture of Imperial and metric measures). I warmed the vinegar up enough to dissolve a couple of teaspoons of pickling salt, then poured it over the garlic. These should keep well in the fridge.


Garlic is pretty much the only crop I grow where I can claim any measure of self-sufficiency. I enjoy growing it, cooking with it, and eating it. Now all those things are going to be tinged with a little sadness, but I don't see that as a bad thing.

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