Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Full Tilt




Yesterday was probably the first day I felt less in control of my little, upstate garlic farm. Postponed from Monday to Tuesday thanks to the never-ending rain, we (yes, Betsy came along for the first time) arrived at our plot full of weeds. I had been there only 18 days prior, with 3 solid hours of weeding behind me, and yet the weeds were lush, large, and looming. But there was something else, the shallots, French Grey, had gone prostrate, completely, as if a wall of water had plowed through. I wasn't expecting this, and as far as I knew, there was another month to go before harvest.

Prostrate French

Plantains, grass and clovers

But this has been no ordinary season, and so I put the idea that something was wrong out of my head. Shallots will fall over when they are near ready. They should begin to yellow or brown, but this May's copious moisture has kept them in the green. It is confusing to witness, it looks like damage, but all said, appears a combination of warmer than average winter and spring temperatures and several inches of May rain. Now, please, please, less rain, so that these shallots can dry down some in there beds before I remove them. It's so early that I have yet to prepare a location to cure them, and will be unlikely to do so. Have you seen the seat of my pants flying by?


Rows demand weeding more than any other planting methodology

Fortunately I had Betsy along with me. Betsy the weeding magnate, born closer to the earth than lumbering fools like myself, 90 degrees bent, back aching and angry at such angles. While Betsy weeded, I weeded as well, but then took stock of the state of our garlic, disposed of the weak, inspected damage that appeared to be caused by the nibbling of roots, counted scapes, but cut none, consulted with the property owners about their barn, none too soon to be remanded to the earth. Will it come down in time?


Growing things at a distance is a game of sorts, a gambling man picking his dates like another picks horses or numbers. This date, yes, that's the lucky one; my bet an investment in gas, tolls, and time. Part educated guess, part luck, it is a game I like to play, but sore to lose; I want to be right, and for the crop to be a success, I need to be right, or close to it.


But then there are moments, say, when I see that the blue in the Italian Purple rocambole is quite similar to the blue of the spruce across the way, or the pleasure in a well-weeded row, or the marvel of quantity.





We strung up the shallots, fooled into thinking it wasn't near harvest time. It is.

 And left scapes alone, fully aware I would need to be back soon.

Late, I disrobed for full tick check. Lucky I did; inside the shirt, approaching the scruff of my neck. I think it found me at the edge of the woods. Betsy was all clear.

We sped off, later than usual, marveling at the Hudson River scenes as I kept a wary eye for suicidal deer and the law. My next visit will be soon, a week's time, 7's a lucky number.


9 comments:

  1. At the risk of sounding like this is a dumb question-- are the scapes, shallots, garlic et al hand harvested? It looks like an amazingly large harvest!

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    1. Yes, Agatha, all will be hand harvested. Even at a larger scale, these will be hand planted, weeded, and harvested. That's why garlic varieties like these are high value. The Scapes are cut by hand too, but all varieties do not produce the scape. Never any dumb questions.

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  2. I like to weed when the soil is moist--gives me great pleasure to pull weeds out by the roots.

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    1. It's been easy to do that this May!

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  3. a very evocative post...I'd like to be on your list for garlic when you're ready to sell.

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    1. Ellen, thanks. You can purchase through the website that will be linked at the top of this page under hudson clove. We're not live yet, but will be when the crop is cured.

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  4. To some dry weather then and the reaping...and finding your space to cure and then to doing bigger next year. Good luck with I all.

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  5. Will you be selling seed garlic? I planted a pound of Purple Glazer in my row house front yard, but would like to try some other varieties in small small quantities. Yours look a lot more vigorous than mine. Jealous!

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    1. Thanks Glendaler. My intention is to grow and sell for seed, but I need a few seasons to ensure that my garlic stock is disease free and vigorous. I will sell for table, however, coming late this summer via our website HudsonClove.com -linked to at the top of this page.

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