Morning CSA Folks!
Summer is finally here and it sure feels like it. The last week has been hot and free from rain, although I hesitate to say dry, as the last several days have felt as humid as ever. The lack of precipitation comes as quite a relief though, as we have finally had the opportunity to get into the field and plant our second round of tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, summer squash, cucumbers, and melons.
Besides a week filled with planting, this week marks the first harvest of one of our most important storage crops: garlic! We have a ½-acre of garlic in the ground right now, that’s over 25,000 individual plants, so harvesting is quite a project, but we are so excited to share it with you all this week and throughout the coming months. Garlic is typically planted in late fall and can be ready for harvest anytime early June through late July. The readiness of the garlic bulbs will depend on the weather and climate so the date may change from year to year. The trick to knowing the right time to pull your garlic from the ground is to look at the leaves. Each plant has anywhere from 6 – 10 leaves (each leaf indicates a layer of flaky wrapper protecting the bulb). When the bottom third of the leaves have browned and died back it is time to harvest! Leaving the plants in the ground too long makes the bulbs susceptible to disease and rot, and they ultimately won’t store as well, so identifying the window of opportunity is key!
The second step to harvesting garlic is curing the bulbs. Curing is the process in which we dry the bulbs and prepare them for storage. To cure garlic all you really need is a room temperature, relatively dry place with good air flow. We leave the stalk on the plant until it dries so that when we snip the bulb from the stem, the fresh cloves inside are protected from bacteria by layers of dried material. The cloves inside of cured and uncured garlic look and taste the same, and can be prepared in the same ways. The difference is all in the dryness of the wrapper that surrounds the cloves. The drying process takes about two weeks and a properly cured garlic bulb can last up to 8 months!
This week in shares we are distributing fresh garlic bulbs with the stem still attached. These uncured bulbs can be snipped and eaten right away, or left to cure for several weeks. I often roast whole cloves with my sweet potatoes or quickly blend raw with herbs and olive oil to make a fresh spread on toast or crackers. However you decide to store, prepare, and eat your garlic, rest assured that there is much more to come and it is delicious!
It might be worth mentioning that we are hosting a Volunteer Garlic Harvest on Thursday morning from 9am – noon. Please let us know if you are interested in participating so we can include you in the volunteer email with more details!
For this week’s share we are also bringing in the most delicious blueberries from Creek Crossing Farm in Purcellville. They do such a fabulous job with these berries – I think there is no better way to eat them that straight out of the palm of my hand. We also have beautiful Swiss chard, cucumbers, and celery this week, and don’t be fooled – this stuff is no grocery store quality celery! It’s crisp, flavorful and chock full of potassium, calcium, antioxidants, and fiber. Celery is known to lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and increase overall cardiovascular health.
Thanks and be well,
Anya, Deb x 22 goats, Dan and Ann, Lex x 800 laying hens and x 17 hogs, James and Rocko, Nate, Christina, Kate, Amanda, Julia, Anna, Radish the feline queen