Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Harvest Day



The night before I emailed a pleading request that we arrive on Tuesday, the third, to avoid holiday traffic, and the rain that was forecast. Request granted. We left at 10.

This is the beak of the flowering stalk on an Asiatic variety called "Asian Tempest." These were supposed to harvest alongside the Turban variety, both being the predecessors of the common Artichoke variety (think California, grocery stores). The Turbans were harvested three weeks prior, having lodged (fallen over). There is less science than art in the harvesting of garlic. Different conditions will produce different results. We harvested our Silverskin variety on the same day as the Asiatic, although they should be a few weeks apart. Someone was late, or early, but either way, the dry conditions we've been having spared us any problems with a late harvest.

This Asiatic cultivar not only stood tall, but was still growing scapes at this late date. Bulbils on the Asiatic cultivars are quite large.

And our field produced a few regressions: a Silverskin and Artichoke, both sativum, produced bulbils. Above are the bulbils penetrating the stem of the Artichoke cultivar "Inchellium Red."

Of course, these two varieties are softneck varieties, the flowering stalk bred out of them over who knows how many years. Above is the "seed head" of a Silverskin cultivar known as "Silver Rose."

Fields ready for harvest are hardly attractive. Above, the Artichoke variety lodges, partly, while the Rocambole and Porcelain stand tall. Hardnecks, ophioscorodon, do not lodge, but all varieties become brown.

It has been dry, but the upstate soil holds moisture. No bulb was harvested that didn't have some moisture in the root zone.

There have always been toads in this field.

I dug and pulled while Betsy tied bundles of ten, arranged by size, then tagged. Do not confuse this garlic for that. Untrained eyes will see one garlic where there are ten. And get them out of the sun.

Into the van went the bundles, 6 hours after arriving. It was late, we stayed over night, in the local Best Western. I needed that tick check sooner than later. I never saw a tick in the field, but I had found one on my back a month prior. All clear.

The garlic arrived in the studio on the Fourth. With no elevator, we carried boxes of bundles up four flights of stairs. Then I built a rack out of scrap wood left behind by one of the several artists leaving our building since the rent increase. We went home at dark, searched the airwaves for Hudson River fireworks, but found none. And slept.

A friend was discarding one of those "indoor" ac units. I collected it, because a studio cure is not the best cure -it's just too hot. The sensors I have measured the highest temperature at 93.5 degrees F, although relative humidity has been quite low. The ac unit appears to reduce any max temperature by 4 or 5 degrees. It is still too warm and I am thinking of finishing these off in our apartment. 

There is one more harvest to go, tomorrow, in fact. I left a quantity of several varieties to see how much latitude there is in harvest times during dry weather. But there are 350 of a Purple Stripe variety and the Creole, precious Creole. We leave early, farmer early, so to return with our bounty before the elevator shuts down for the evening. And then it will be done, a year of garlic growing. 



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