We were almost giddy with joy at harvesting our first garlic last weekend. Garlic, it turns out, is the Ronco Rotisserie of vegetables - plant it (in late fall) and forget it until Spring. Ours survived one of the coldest winters on record, as abandoned by its creator as any sci-fi robot, and leafed our nicely as soon as the tundra began to soften. In early June the plants sent up shoots, called scapes (or simply "curls" in my house) that have a wonderful crunch and taste like a mild blend of garlic and onions. I first tasted them only a few years ago, and being able to grow them myself nearly offsets the disaster that is the rest of our garden,
We really went to the mat for heirloom seeds and local varieties this year. Lu started a bunch of vegetables indoors, under grow lights, so our veggies could get in the ground as early in the season as possible. The result has been the opposite of impressive, and it can be a wee bit irritating to see plants bought at Home Depot blast off like kudzu while one's own special little darling plants falter and fumble their way to humble growth. A local farmer friend provided the seed bulbs for this garlic, so its success buoyed up our spirits.
In early July, we unearthed the bulbs. They range in size from meh to wow. Now they're hanging up to dry next to our front door, in case any traditional vampires come by to tell us about Jesus Christ. I'm told they should stay there until the leaves turn yellow. Then we can separate out the garlic we want to plant this fall (the largest ones, so I can unnaturally select in favor of bigness) and cook with the rest.
Now there's hope again in the garden.