Easy Gardening Project: Growing Garlic

Growing garlic isn’t difficult. I live in mid-Michigan in gardening zone 5B, where we plant garlic cloves in late fall, just around the time the first freezes hit. This way they can winter over, and we will see their green shoots come up in the spring. By late summer next year, they will be ready to harvest. The only care they will need during their life cycle is occasional watering in dry weather, and keeping the weeds at bay.

Want to know what your gardening zone is? Enter your zip code at Michigan Bulb’s Zone Finder. It’s good to know your zone when choosing plants for your yard.

Here’s pictures of some of this years haul. These are the cloves I’ve saved aside to return to the garden to become next year’s garlic plants. I chose these because they’re so huge. Every year, I re-plant the biggest of the cloves, and over the past couple of decades, I’ve developed a mighty garlic army!

What’s that you say? They don’t look so big in this bowl?

Well, let’s compare them to quarters for size reference. No, those aren’t dimes. They are quarters. Dwarfed by my garlic cloves.

That is one huge garlic clove. George Washington looks nervous.

Below, you can see the pointy ends, and the one blunt end (second from right). That’s how you know which way to plant them. Poke holes three inches deep and four inches apart in weed-free soil. Push one clove down into each hole, pointy end up, blunt end down. Pat dirt over the hole to fill it, and go do something else until next summer. So easy.

The garlic that isn’t getting re-planted has been dehydrated and crushed into small pieces. These are easy to store, and can be used in all sorts of soups, stews, sauces, and even things that don’t start with ‘S’. If you have a mighty blender or food processor, you could pulverize dehydrated garlic into powder.
Here’s some simple advice about drying garlic.

If you are growing a ‘hardneck’ variety of garlic, they will develop a ‘scape’, which is a long, center stalk that forms a  loop before ending in a flower. These scapes are useful!
How to Cook with Garlic Scapes

If, like me, you choose not to use the scapes and flowers, you can leave them on the plant and let the flower go to seed. I know that scapes draw nutrients away from the forming garlic heads below ground, but in my experience, not by much. Your mileage may vary. After a few years, you’ll know what you want to do about the scapes.

The scape flower seeds, or as we call them at my house, ‘pearls’, will eventually burst free from inside the flower casing and dry in place on the stem. You can save these pearls to plant, if you wish to increase the size of your own personal garlic army. I’ve done this many times. The underground garlic heads will be smaller than those grown from cloves, but they are still perfectly usable and just as delicious.


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Caribou Country Chamomile Wine

Making your own wine at home can be either intimidating or lots of fun. I like to make wine and I like to have fun. Most of the recipes and instructions on the internet are intimidating AND confusing.  And they try to convince you everything has to be perfect, and you have to use that floating thermometer thingydoodle to get your alcohol level just right.  Here’s a secret. I can’t get my floating thermometer thingydoodle to even float, not even a little, it just drops like an ironclad and doesn’t tell me anything useful. *whispers* So I stopped using it completely. Continue reading “Caribou Country Chamomile Wine”

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Living a Steampunk Life, in Real Life

I use this blog sporadically and randomly, and with no real sort of focus or goal. My typist has her own private journal, and now we’ve decided that when she writes about activities that would suit my Steampunk era, I’ll let her cross post them here. She lives in the country, and rather enjoys doing many things the way they were done in the Victorian era – or earlier! These sort of posts may be of interest to my SL friends who don’t have access to my RL private journal. So, let’s give it a go.

Today’s Garden Harvest:

Three dozen Garlic Scapes which will be finely diced and either dried or stored in oil.

Three quarts of quite fat strawberries. More jam perhaps? Already did nine pints. Debating. Must clean them up at least.

Handful of poppy flowers. (Drying, for tea. Don’t panic, I use sparingly for sleeping.)

Handful of Borage Flowers for tea.

Big bunch of Sweet Woodruff for May Wine

Shall mince the scapes, clean the strawberries, wash the woodruff and let it air dry (stuff dries FAST on its own). I may pull down hanging bundles of oregano, chocolate mint and spearmint to crunch into jars. The catnip is a slow drying herb and needs more time to dry.

Tomorrow I hope to harvest mints, catnip, oregano, chives, sage, chamomile flowers and raspberry leaves.

Everything is growing very well! Won’t be long to peppers, radishes, lettuces, beans, raspberries… tomatoes still look a ways off.

Oh, and I tea-dyed an all-cotton peasant blouse and a pair of cotton gloves. Both were FAR too blindingly white for my taste!

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Minty Fresh Assistance Needed

Amazingly, I’m posting AGAIN. Two posts on the same day! Your mind, it boggles! But I did want to bring the plight of a local farm to the attention of my flist… perhaps you can assist, and enjoy some minty goodness, too!

Here’s the info from our local paper, the Lansing State Journal.

St. Johns Mint Farm Falls Short But Raises $78,000

ST. JOHNS – The country’s oldest mint farm was peppered with revenue Saturday, but not enough to stop it from closing.

Jim Crosby, 42, said there are 59,000 bottles of farm-distilled peppermint and spearmint oil left to sell. However, he hopes the spike in clientele – roughly 1,054 new clients in 24 hours and $78,000 in profits from the last three weeks – is enough to make a legal case to keep the doors open.

Crosby is close to losing the farm to foreclosure. His lender, Greenstone Farm Credit Services, reserves the right to liquidate assets because not enough to cover the $348,000 debt was raked in, Crosby said. “In theory, they can come in and do repossession and confiscate everything. But at this point, we don’t know what we’re going to do,” Crosby said of his 140-acre farm in St. Johns.

But Crosby remains hopeful, he said, because customers from as far away as Denmark bought oils online for anything from sinus problem relief to aromatic massages.

“I’m the optimist. I know we’re going to do this,” Crosby said. The new customers encourage his faith that the farm, which his great-grandfather started in 1912, will make it, he said. “I’ve always offered a money-back guarantee, and I’ve never given money back. I never had to.”

This is a reader comment to the above story:

The farm was auctioned and bought for $348,000. The farmers have a timeframe to pay that off. They were trying to sell all their stock to do so. In 4 or 5 days, they’ve sold more than 15,500 drams of oil toward their goal. If they can show the bank that they can produce, the bank may give them more time.

According to the previous article, there were deaths in the family, leaving one farmer to take care of two farms alone. Now, his sister has joined him, and they’re trying to climb back out.

I encourage anyone who can to go to their website www.getmint.com and order a bottle or two. Great for Christmas candy making, and natural healing properties. They’re only $5 /ea+S&H. A small price to help out a fellow human.

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