The 2019 crop is hanging to cure in bunches in the high drive of our old dairy barn. It looks and smells wonderful this year especially given all of the weather challenges we had here this spring. We finished harvesting on Sunday, August 11th, a week after our anniversary. We moved to this hillside farm in East Hardwick, Vermont thirty years ago. What an adventure it has been.
It was a late start to spring weather in April this year. It was colder than normal for two or more extra weeks. We had rain fall almost daily for the month of May and then we had deep mud everywhere. The garlic seemed to like all of the rain better than we did! The temperatures shifted almost overnight to summer heat. June was full of sunny hot days and nights and my father who has been living with us for over two years turned 98. The hot days continued into July, the scapes were ready to be picked by the 5th and my Dad left this earth on July 19th. My dad, Don O’Neil helped us for the last two years with our bulb “popping” in the fall and I will miss him. The summer flew by and much of my focus was held by taking care of my twin grandsons a few days a week I have been and am very fortunate to have a wonderful family!
I am happy to say that this year I enjoyed the harvest more than I ever have. I thought about all of the reasons why I like to grow and sell garlic. The weather held, there were breezes in the field when it got really hot, the skies were clear and each morning for ten straight days I harvested beautiful bulbs of German White Extra Hardy Garlic. By the end of the harvest the weather began to shift and cooler nights started to blow in.
I can hardly believe that the morning sky is beginning to look like the fall has started to descend upon us. My flowers have been beautiful this summer and the weeds grew like crazy in my high tunnel. The growing season is short here in the Northeast Kingdom. Each year I consider what to grow for greens for the fall and winter. This year is the same. The work is always there and the days get shorter. We work on our house and barn and in the fields and the seasons change. Soon we will all be planting our garlic before the winter snows begin.
My year is defined and organized around planting, growing, harvesting and curing garlic. I love to do this because it makes sense to me. I enjoy sharing the garlic that I work so hard to grow with others. It makes me feel as if we have a common language, a common love. Life can get very unpredictable with politics, weather challenges, family changes and work schedules. There is comfort in knowing that if I plant my garlic in the fall it will grow in the early spring. It will be ready to harvest in early August, ready to ship in early September and ready to plant again in mid October. I can count on it and I like that!
EastView Farm’s Hardwick Garlic is ready for purchase now. I will ship the bulbs out to you in Sylvacurl, our other product, in September so that you can plan your planting date for October. This year I have added shipping cost back in to cover my costs. I am still trying to offer a fair price to you and to me for growing premium certified organic seed for you to plant.
In the meantime, get your beds ready. Take a soil test and plant a green manure crop to till in before planting. Most green manure crops need about six weeks to grow before they are tilled back into the soil for full benefit. I plant organic oats and peas in my beds the week after harvesting. Think about making raised beds this year if you haven’t already. They help to shed the rain and warm up the soil in the spring. Add compost now or at planting time. Add amendments if your soil test results indicate a need. Get straw or other mulch ready to cover your garlic bed well after planting and enjoy the last weeks of the 2019 summer.
Summers are always too short for me but each season brings gifts and challenges a chance to learn, find joy and meaning in my work. I hope that your next garlic year goes well. This winter I plan to write a book about growing garlic on EastView Farm. Watch for it next spring.
My best wishes to you,
Scenes from the 2019 harvest