What Happens Underground Doesn’t Stay Underground
Last fall I blogged about my foray into planting garlic. My procrastination in ordering bulbs on the Seeds from Italy website resulted in missing out on the desired rossa di Sulmona variety. I settled for viola Francese.
I separated the bulbs into cloves, planted them, and mulched them as instructed. They pushed their green shoots out this spring (full disclosure–a few started growing last fall). We savored the garlic scapes in salads and sautés. So good.
Then the whirl of summer took over. A morning glory vine from a planter box adjacent to my garlic patch spilled a thick green leaf quilt over the garlic leaves which were wilting and turning brown according to nature’s plan.
Hmmmm. Out of sight. Out of mind. When was I supposed to dig up those garlic bulbs?
I consulted my trusty copy of Step-by-Step Gardening Techniques Illustrated (Storey Communications) which told me, “When most of the leaves have turned brown (in mid-July to early August, depending on your climate), gently pull or dig up the bulbs, being careful not to bruise them. Don’t leave them in the ground too long, or they may begin to separate and will not store well.”
It’s the end of August! Carefully retrieving the bulbs with a trowel, I can see that although most of the bulbs are intact, the center stem connected to the root has died back, leaving the individual cloves more prone to separate from the bulb.
I don’t care. I’m still giddy about my bumper crop. Now that I can see the bounty, I promise myself to watch the calendar more closely next season.