The gardening season is moving along so fast. It’s hard to believe it is time to start digging garlic. Actually, it was past time for a few of the earliest ones. I let one of the new varieties, Maiskij, go too long. The leaves and stems were completely brown and dried. The wrapper skins had deteriorated on many of them, which means they won’t keep well at all. I normally like to harvest garlic with three or four leaves still green, and the rest brown. That’s my signal to start digging, but I missed it.
With a name like Maiskij, I should have known it would be early. From the catalog description: “the name refers to May, the month it is harvested…this will be your first garlic to emerge after fall planting and the first to harvest.” Oh well, I’ll know better next year! It should keep long enough to plant this fall. It sure made some nice big fat bulbs in its first year.
Chinese Pink is another early garlic, and it was just ready to harvest. As was Shilla, and both are nice sized this year. Most of these early garlics are Asiatic or Turban hardneck types that have great flavor, but don’t store very well. So we’ll use them first, and I have plans to dry a batch of them in the dehydrator. All the garlics will hang to dry in the basement for a couple of weeks, with a dehumidifier running. That’s the best place I have to dry garlic. It’s too humid anywhere outside. I won’t clean them up or weigh them until they have cured.
The most exciting news I have on the garlic front is about my lone Creole variety. I got Ajo Rojo from Christina in a garlic swap back in 2010. Last year, the sizes on the Ajo Rojo were all over the place. I selected the biggest cloves from the biggest bulbs for planting in 2011, and hoped for the best. This year, the bulbs are all quite big, so it means they are getting acclimated to our area.
And that is wonderful, because Ajo Rojo is a great tasting garlic and a good keeper. The white wrappers hide the lovely red cloves inside. I will be planting more of this great garlic in 2012.
Speaking of alliums, we’re getting some nice early onions here too. It’s my first time growing the Italian beauty Red Torpedo Tropea, but it sure won’t be my last. The one in the below photo was nice sized and even nicer tasting. I’d like to try some of these on the grill. I’m sure ours aren’t quite as good as the famous ones from the Calabria region of Italy, but they sure are a lot closer to get! I grew these from plants I got from Seeds from Italy.
It wasn’t all garlic and onions here last week though. I cut quite a bit of the Apollo broccoli. This is the closest thing most home gardeners have to growing broccolini, which is a trademarked variety (and seed is not available). Apollo has long tender stems, a sweet taste, and the side shoots keep coming for a long time. It was great lightly steamed.
I also got more kohlrabi, and lots of yellow squash and zucchini. The squashes have been sauteed for a side dish, and some wound up in a frittata.
I harvested quite a bit of the Purple Queen beans, enough to use in the kitchen as well as enough to start freezing for later use. I made a Walnut Green Bean salad for our picnic lunch on Thursday. My wife made her curried chicken salad, and we took some kohlrabi and dip. It made for a great lunch at Lincoln State Park.
And last, but never least, the blackberries are starting to ripen. The first few didn’t even make it into the house, but got eaten out in the blackberry patch. The plants are loaded with berries, and 2012 looks to be another good year for one of our most prolific and easy to grow fruits. The total haul this year will be down a bit, since we ripped out about half of the plants to make room for some new varieties (Natchez, Ouachita and Loch Ness). But that still should leave us with plenty of berries. There was about 2 quarts in this first harvest – not bad at all so far!
We continue to get nice amount of blueberries too, which we are really enjoying while they are fresh. And the lettuce and carrots are giving us plenty to eat too. I even froze some carrots for making soup this winter, in a mix along with green beans, squash, and onions. I should have some celery to add to the soup mix before long.
That’s what we have been harvesting here in mid June. For more gardeners’ harvests, visit Daphne’s Dandelions.