19 Dec 2012

Harvesting garlic

And more than all, how many of us have dined at the Réserve at Marseille, that famous restaurant on the Mediterranean shore, where the brothers Roubion have acquired immortal fame? There is but one word in English which describes the sensation of the traveller who eats there for the first time -- that word is revelation. New truths seem to be imparted to you as you swallow, new objects and new theories of life seem to float around you. Strange ideas come to you across the sea: and when it all is over, when with a calm-bringing cigar, your legs stretched out, you silently digest and think, with the Chateau d'If and the flickering waves before you in the moonlight. you gratefully thank Providence for having led you there. All this is the effect of garlic, which works upon you like haschisch.

French Home Life 1873
Tradition says that one should sow garlic on the shortest day and harvest the whole heads on the longest. Unfortunately, the solstice falls far too close to Christmas madness for us, and so we harvest ours a week early. This year's crop was great, even if my iPhone pic is not.  Big sigh. 

Generally we plait the lovely leaves together and hang them prettily and proudly in the laundry, but alas, somebody who shall remain nameless neatly removed the leaves this year, so the heads will live hidden away in a bucket after drying instead. No matter. Home grown garlic tastes much better than the Chinese store bought variety, and it is worth having, no matter where it is kept.  Garlic stored in a dry environment will last twelve months, by which time we'll have more to harvest.  It even self perpetuates - replanting and uneaten heads produces next year's crop!

Personally I love the smell of fresh garlic drying and cooking.  It doesn't smell so good on some people's breath, though, as Thomas Nash so eloquently said:
Garlick maketh a man wynke, drynke, and stynke.
Ahem. Yes.

A breath mint helps.


  1. Whilst I planted mine a month late, the tops had gone brown I picked a couple and . . . they were perfectly formed garlic, just the size of a pea. WHAT WENT WRONG!!!!!!! I was so disappointed.

    I have left them in the ground, not sure what will happen now.

  2. Wait and month and see what happens. Otherwise, leave them for next year. That's what I'd do!


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