This week, we harvested our three full beds of garlic.
Its been a long time coming. We planted the garlic waay back at the very end of the last growing season, a few weeks before the first big freeze in November. We planted two varieties: Inchelium Red, a softneck, and Chesnook Red, a hardneck. Whats the difference? Softneck garlic is easier to grow, keeps longer, and has more (albeit a bit smaller than hardneck) cloves. They also braid easily, as their stalks become soft and pliable. Almost any garlic you buy in the supermarket is a softneck variety.
Hardneck garlic is stiffer (hence the name) and has fewer, but larger, cloves. Because it does not have as much of a white papery skin surrounding the cloves, hardneck varieties tend not to keep as well as softnecks.
Chesnook red, our hardneck variety, is originally from Shvelisi, Republic of Georgia. Inchelium Red was first discovered in Inchelium, WA, on the Colville Indian Reservation. Far-flung locations! But both garlics seemed to thrive in our soil. Also, we decided to combine the names of the locations where both were found– Inchelium Shvelisi!– and make it into a Harry Potter spell that would make garlic bulbs sprout wherever it was cast.
We must be getting too excited for the release of the final HP movie this week…though I stand by the idea that it does in fact sound very much like a latin Harry Potter Spell.
We cleaned the garlic and trimmed off the roots, then scrubbed em and got them ready for curing. Garlic needs to be cured for two weeks. Our makeshift solution is to hang the cloves in our dorm rooms; they need dark, dry, well-ventilated rooms. Sam and I will be safe from vampires for the next two weeks, and then some.
When, in two weeks, the garlic emerges from the dark cocoons of our dorm rooms like beautiful butterflies from the chrysalis, we will be able to use our own supply of garlic for tasty garden treats. I’ll be sure to report back with taste differences between the Chesnook and Inchelium varieties.
There was an interesting New York Times article published a few days ago about a recently-released Center for Disease Control and Prevention study. The numbers are discouraging, to say the least. Statistics like these reinforce the idea that having something as simple as a garden in a visible part of campus/Cambridge might encourage more positive eating habits in all who walk by or stop in for a minute to see what is going on. Developing a familiarity with unprocessed, fresh versions of everyday vegetables–just what they look like and how they develop– may encourage people to think twice when choosing between baby carrots and of-nebulous-corn-origin Doritos. But the statistics also point to a deeper, more ingrained problem in the way Americans conceptualize food, eating, and nutrition. It is going to take much more than a community garden in every town to change the way people think about vegetables.
And to David Bernstein– zucchini are nowhere near as intimidating as you think they are!