Monday, June 11, 2012

Here's a New One: Garlic

So do you remember a few weeks ago when I wrote about my wimpy little apple tree, and how amazing it was that something so puny could actually be producing so many apples? Well, right after I wrote that post, Robb and I went on a five day road trip. When we returned, all of the apples had fallen off the tree. No joke! And to think I had thought it was safe to be optimistic. Dreaming of apple pies, even. Like a fool! A FOOL! What happened, you might wonder? Well, at first we thought we could blame it on a feral cat, or a squirrel. We needed there to be some sort of monster in the plot line to make sense of it all. But upon further investigation, I now suspect it was just a strong breeze. That tree, really is as weak as it looks. I honest to God think that those apples just couldn't hang on. They were like calcium-deficient apples, apples that always hated P.E. Maybe some day they'll develop some muscles and actually hang on, but for now, it's going to be another apple-less year I'm afraid.

But did you really think I would come all this way just to tell you some shitty bum-out news? No! That's not what this blog is about (for the most part). As the saying goes, when God closes a door, he opens a window*. Or in this case, when God kills your apples, he gives you garlic.
That's right! We have garlic! This is a thing we tried to grow last year, but I strongly suspect we planted them at the wrong time of year. And then forgot about them. It was silly. (Robb and I are very bad about understanding what time of year to plant things...I swear, all we have to do is a simple Google search, or just check the gardening book that is literally right next to our bed. But no, we prefer to stay ignorant on most issues pertaining to timing.) This year, however, my very smart friend Morgan gave me heads up that it was time to plant the garlic. In case you're wondering, the time of year to do this (at least on the East Coast) is in the fall. Like, if you're planting bulbs for the spring, just plant some garlic, too. It'll be neat.

Neatest of all is how you actually grow garlic. Have you ever kept garlic around your house so long that nice green shoots start growing out of the cloves? Well, that's your garlic trying to make more garlic. And when you plant cloves of garlic in soil, that shoot comes out of the ground and grows nice and tall, and each one of those underground cloves eventually develops into an entire head of garlic. Amazing! So to plant your own garlic, all you have to do is buy some strong, healthy, yummy looking heads of garlic at your farmers market or grocery store, pull apart the cloves, and then stick each clove in the ground about six inches apart from each other in rows.

We started to notice how happy our garlic was when winter ended--there they were, these enormous green stalks all grouped together in a thicket. About a month ago, Morgan informed me that the skinny, curly green tubes growing out of my plants were the garlic scapes (which are yummy to chop up and eat in salads or with eggs). Soon after that, the plants started to die back, so it seemed to finally be time to dig them up.
One by one, we started pulling them out of the ground, large and small, cute as can be.
And then suddenly we had way more garlic than any humans really need. (Insert vampire joke here?)
And then I said, "Hey Robb, pick up all that garlic at the same time! I want to take a picture!" And then he did the same to me, but his photo turned out A LOT cuter than mine, so that's all you get here, folks.

Now that they're out of the ground, the garlic bulbs are currently making a huge mess on our dining room table whilst they "cure." I don't really know what this means, but it's basically letting the garlic dry out so you can store it. After a few weeks of curing, I can braid the stalks and make a cool looking thing to hang on the wall and be like, "Anyone want some home grown garlic?" and then just casually reach over and yank off a clove. (All my life, I thought those garlic braids were just for decoration...who knew they were edible?)

But tonight, we couldn't resist trying out our crop, and we chopped up a whole head to go in a homemade marinara sauce. And yes, I'm still enjoying the afterglow of that good, garlicky taste, and yes, you're probably glad I'm not meeting you for drinks right now, because then you would also be enjoying the garlicky afterglow.

Hey by the way! If you want to grow your own garlic, but you want more information than I included in this lousy post, check out this lovely tutorial at Fine Gardening. They are far more helpful than I am! (It's their jobs.)

*All of the wisdom I have learned in my life came from The Sound of Music.


  1. I swear, when I realized that I could throw the ends of some things in the ground and they just grew, my mind was blown. I'm honored to have been a part of your first scapie spring! yay, garlic! xoxo

  2. Morgan, I feel the exact same way about throwing scraps in the ground and watching them grow! It is MAGIC! BTW I am equally fascinated by sprouting avocado pits, though I know better than to hope for a successful avocado tree in Brooklyn. I mean, if I can't even grow apples in freaking New York, I somehow doubt my tropical orchard would fare well.

  3. And yes, I'm still enjoying the afterglow of that good, garlicky taste, and yes, you're probably glad I'm not meeting you for drinks right now, because then you would also be enjoying the garlicky afterglow.

    See, and that's why I'm not sure I'd ever grow my own garlic (well, that and I don't ever grow ANYTHING). I'd be too tempted to use it and then I'd be one of those Garlic People.

    Which is to say, good luck being a Garlic Person! Your garlic is so pretty!

    1. Oh crap, I am totally a Garlic Person! Why couldn't I be something cool, like an Artichoke Person?