Nice day yesterday here in Santa Fe. I planted the garlic I ordered from Filaree Garlic Farm online for the second year and their garlic is great. I ordered 3 hardneck varieties (hardneck varieties do well here in cold climates). They are Penasco Blue, German White and Music. All produce big heads of garlic. If you plant garlic in late fall (October), you will get bigger heads of garlic in early summer than if you wait till summer to plant it and it’s sooo easy at this time of year. I added about 2 inches of compost on top of my raised bed, lightly dug it in and planted the cloves pointy side up about 3 inches deep. Then water well and add about 6 inches of straw on top for winter protection. Remember to water them in the winter if we don’t get any precipitation and wait for the green leaves to appear in early spring. Nothing bothers them too and fresh garlic is great! That’s it-easy peezy.
Well, we harvested garlic this last Wednesday at the Master Gardening Vegetable Demo Garden. We had planted 4 varieties last fall, I believe in October.
It is now ‘curing’ on my outside table in the shade of our portal where it is protected from the rain (what rain?) or should I say, potential rain.
Curing is the process of drying out the outer papery layers on the garlic bulb and takes around 3 weeks. If it rains (lol) I will cover it with a tarp so it doesn’t get wet as that would ruin the garlic. Never get garlic wet. It needs to be in a dry, airy, shady location while it is curing.
Curing and then storing garlic allows you to extend your summer harvest of garlic well into winter… and my favorite thing about garlic is that it still stays fresh long after it’s been cured. When you harvest, don’t clean the dirt off the heads. You can do that later but never with water-just brush the dirt off the heads.
Also soft- necked garlic can be braided while the leaves are still soft, (if you like) and the heads are drying out. Hard neck cannot be braided as the stem (think neck) is too stiff. When it is done curing, I will cut off the stems about an inch above the heads and store in a cool dark place in the pantry.
As to my own garlic, it isn’t quite ready to harvest yet. How do I know? It needs to have about half the leaves die back before digging it out to harvest and I’m about 2 weeks away. I love the smell of garlic and can hardly wait to harvest my own!
The garlic is starting to come up nicely, even through the snow. I believe it wakes up when the daylight hours get long enough. By planting garlic in the fall, you’ll get larger bulbs and will be able to harvest earlier in the summer. I planted it in late October and put straw over it to protect the bulbs from winter. Looks like it worked! The straw keeps the bulbs from freezing and the snow can melt through it and provide moisture. Didn’t even have to water it this winter. Such an easy crop to grow and fresh garlic is the best!
If you’re gonna grow garlic this fall, and I suggest you do, this month is the time to get your beds ready for it. Add lots of aged horse manure and some greensand to your bed. Then turn it over and wait till October to put the garlic in (you should be ordering now). Don’t worry if we have a freezing night or two in October, it won’t hurt the garlic as the ground won’t actually freeze until later (like December) and the garlic will start to send its roots down, getting a good headstart for spring. I ordered my garlic about 2 weeks ago and am getting some softneck and hardneck varieties which will arrive in October. It’s such an easy crop to grow and the flavor is far superior to store-bought garlic that it’s one crop I always grow in the fall. Just remember to put lots of straw on it as a mulch AFTER the nights start to freeze and pick a bed that you won’t need right away next summer as the garlic won’t be ready till late June-July.
The reason I grow hardneck is for the outstanding flavor although it has a shorter shelf life and must be used up in a few months. The reason I grow softneck garlic is because it has a longer shelf life up to 10 months and there are many tasty varieties of it as well. Besides I’m looking forward to braiding softneck garlic which will be a challenge as I never learned how to braid hair!
Today the ‘Emerite’ beans, some beets and 3 little tomatoes were ready for harvest! The beans are french vericots and should be picked very thin when they are tender. If you wait till they are bigger they will be tough. The beets were from thinning them out some more so the rest of them can get bigger. The garlic in the picture was harvested a couple of weeks go and is dry and ready to clean up.
Ok, so now since it is time to plant my fall veggie garden, here is my planting schedule
FIRST-WHAT TO PLANT AND WHEN
Depends a lot on what you like to eat. Below is MY list of what I want to plant for a fall garden. Some of these are already growing in the summer garden and will be ready to harvest soon like the carrots and beets so I must decide if I want more in the fall. All of these planting dates are estimates depending on the variety you grow and are based on planting outside, not in a greenhouse. Look on your package of seeds or on the plant label for seedlings for accurate harvest times and go backwards from Oct 3 for Santa F+ add 14 days.
Fennel (Finnochio-bulb type)-Sow seeds mid June. OPPS! Missed this. The short cool days of fall are even better for fennel than spring. You can still plant this (IN JULY) as it likes cool nights although the bulbs may be smaller since we missed it’s prime planting date.
Asian Greens/Bok Choi- Sow seeds mid July. Can handle light frosts. Harvest days depends on variety. Look on seed package.
Beets- Sow seeds in mid July-early August. Can handle freezes but must mulch with thick straw or row cover. 45-65 days to harvest.
Broccoli- Sow seeds early July-mid July. Can handle light frosts. 55 days to harvest.
Broccoli raab- Sow seeds in early July-mid July. Can handle light frosts. 45 days to harvest.
Carrots- Sow seeds in early July-mid August. Can handle freezes but must mulch with thick straw or row cover. 70-80 days to harvest.
Chard- Sow seeds late July-. Can handle some light frosts. Cover with row cover when it gets cold to extend season. 50-60 days to harvest .
Kale- Sow seeds early July. The short cool days of fall are even better for kale than spring. Kale that is established will last well into winter and can survive below freezing temperatures down into the 20s.
Lettuces- Lettuce baby- Sow seeds in early-August. Seedlings will need consistent moisture and shade from the afternoon sun on hot days. Cover when it gets cold to extend season but it will not survive freezing temps. 45 days to harvest depending on type and variety.
Peas- Sow seeds in early-July-mid-July. Likes cool but not freezing weather. 60-75 days .
Radish- Sow seeds late July. 30 days to harvest.
Spinach- Sow seeds early-August. The short cool days of fall are even better for spinach than spring. Spinach that is established will last well into winter and can survive below freezing temperatures down into the 20s although it will stop growing. Why doesn’t it freeze? It produces an alcohol inside-alcohol won’t freeze! 45 days to maturity.
Endive, Escarole-Sow seeds early August. The short cool days of fall are even better for these than spring.
Lettuces- Lettuce head – Sow seeds in anytime August. Seedlings will need consistent moisture and shade from the afternoon sun on hot days. Cover when it gets cold to extend season but it will not survive freezing temps. 45 to 60 days to harvest depending on type and variety.
Mesclun mixes- Sow seeds in early-August. Seedlings will need consistent moisture and shade from the afternoon sun on hot days. Cover when it gets cold to extend season but it will not survive freezing temps. 45 to 60 days to harvest depending on type and variety.
Arugula- Sow seeds in mid-August-late August. Fast growing. Can handle some light frosts. 30-40 days to harvest.
Kale- Sow more seeds mid August. The short cool days of fall are even better for kale than spring. Kale that is established will last well into winter and can survive below freezing temperatures down into the 20s
Garlic-Sow largest cloves anytime in October after the first frost. Harvest in late-June-July
Shallots-Sow largest bulbs anytime in October after the first frost. Harvest in late-June-July.
I’m not a big fan of kale, endive, escarole and collards, but went ahead and listed them as I know many of you like them. Cabbage and cauliflower take too long to grow for me. Forgetaboutit!
SECOND-WHERE TO PLANT
Do you have garden space close to your house for easy watering and harvesting as it gets colder? This is important to consider if your main garden is far away from your home. I have two places to plant them now. My cold frame and my raised beds up by the house. If I ever get my greenhouse done, I’ll have another great place for veggies but for now I’ll plant in my two spaces.
My first space is my cold frame up by the house. Since it is too hot now, I think I will have to put some shade cloth over it to keep plants cooler inside. Also I want to get one of those automatic vent openers that will open the lid if the temps get too hot and close it when it gets too cold.
My second space is the raised beds also up by the house. Raised beds are great as they keep the soil warmer in the fall when it is getting cooler. Since I already pulled all the garlic in these raised beds, I will plant a few cold hardy vegetables in them and then plant garlic and shallots between them come October. The beauty of having some garden space close to the house is when it does get cold, I won’t have to walk down to the main garden to water and harvest. I can just get a watering can and go right outside the house. Also I can replace the light row cover that I keep my cool season crops under (keeps the critters and bugs away) with a heavy row cover on the beds if a sudden frost comes up. The cool season crops will be picked by the time winter hits and the garlic and shallots will sleep till spring!
I’m starting to harvest my garlic. How do I know when to dig them out? The soft neck variety is dying back (despite good watering) and when it has most of the leaves brown with only a few green ones at the top, it is time to harvest. The shallots in the background are nowhere near harvesting yet.
Here is a picture of a garlic ready to be dug out. I carefully scrape the soil away revealing the bulb. Then be careful not to nick the bulb when digging out or it will go bad. Look at the size of this bulb-about 3 inches! Woo! Hoo!
It takes about 3 years for garlic to get use to someone’s growing conditions so it is important to save your biggest cloves to plant again as bigger cloves mean bigger garlic next season. This is my second year and the cloves are definitely getting bigger. Be sure to ‘cure’ them after digging them up. It takes about 3 weeks to let them dry out so don’t scrape the dirt or wash them after you dig them up-just let them dry out in a shady place for about 2 weeks before you brush off the dirt and then let them cure another week when the skins are dry and you can clean them up by taking a few of the dry skin layers off and store them in a dark place. Never wet garlic when curing. To read about last year’s post on types of garlic and more on harvesting garlic go here.
I also planted the hardneck variety of garlic. They already produced flower stalks called scapes (which I cut off and froze to eat later) and they are starting to die back and will probably be ready within 2 weeks as their leaves are still pretty green. They say hardneck is more flavorful but the softneck will last longer so I planted both this past fall.
If you plant garlic in the fall instead of spring, the bulbs will be larger. If you planted in spring, the garlic should be ready sometime in August. Garlic harvesting is very exciting as there is nothing as good as fresh garlic from the garden especially with my upcoming tomatoes.