I love the rhythm of farming. It’s a slow beat and one that you don’t just hear but you feel with all your senses. The sound of the birds changing shift in spring and the calls of their baby birds for food, the sounds of frogs slowly fading back to a chorus of cicadas as the soil dries up and the days get warmer. The smell of wattle in the air that gives way to fruit tree blossom as winter passes over to spring. The sun slowly waking earlier and earlier and the feeling of the hot northerlies on your skin and dust up your nose signalling that summer is really here. These are all part of the rhythm that helps us know when we need to bust a move and when we can just tip-toe through the broad bean patch checking everyone’s ok!
Last week the rhythm of the patch shifted up a notch as we observed our garlic, the weather patterns, and the moon cycle to work out the best day to harvest it. Too early and the bulbs won’t be fully formed, too late and they will be starting to split open and not store very long, too wet and we risk them going mouldy as we cure them, and too dry and we won’t be able to plait the stems! According to the biodynamic calendar, the best time for harvesting garlic to ensure long-term storage is in the sign of Leo. Leo only crops up once a month for 2–3 days, so November 21–23 was our only option. Its not great to harvest garlic when the soil is still wet or it’s raining. You really want the ground to be dry enough that the soil falls off as you pull the garlic out, not sticking to the bulbs. The weather report was looking pretty dismal but we were hoping by Wednesday the rain would have cleared.
The day dawned a bit grey but there were just enough patches of sun between the drizzle and wind to help partially dry the bulbs as we pulled them up and bundled them off into the shed. We saved our best bulbs last year for seed and it certainly paid off as this year’s garlic bulbs are beautiful!! Big, purple and strong, we’re so excited to get them out into the community! Mel has strung them all up to dry from our beautiful new shed’s ceiling, and next week we’ll be plaiting them up into year and half-year sized plaits to sell.
Garlic is one of the markers of how long we’ve been growing on this patch. Last year it was the first thing we planted in our first three beds that we made and now, 18 months later, we’re harvesting our second crop, saved from that first lot we planted. Hopefully we’ve learnt a few things along the way. We’ve certainly still got a lot to learn! Keep you’re eyes out on Facebook as we’ll be selling the garlic there in the coming weeks.
Sas and Mel