Sunday, November 22, 2009

Garlic Planting Fiesta!

After planting nearly 2,500 garlic cloves by ourselves, working out the techniques, we put out a "last-minute" mass email to friends to come help us finish planting when we saw the beautiful weather forecast for the Saturday of last weekend (clear and in the 60's, a real rarity for a Michigan November day!).

Friends came and went throughout the day, helping with various tasks such as separating the cloves, counting the cloves within each variety, raking the raised beds to level them and also remove any obvious clumps of grass still trying to grow, marking the holes for the individual cloves, planting the individual cloves, marking the end of rows with stakes labeled by variety, chatting, eating, enjoying the sun and warmth, and also helping to move a huge brush pile to a more appropriate burn site for a future bonfire (we're thinking about the night of the winter solstice - Dec 21).

My husband is providing our helpers with some local currency that he is calling "Garlic Guilders" to be turned in next year for garlic crops when they come in. One of my sister-in-laws is excited about figuring out how to actually make paper from all the garlic bulb wrappers (i.e., the papery substance that surrounds a whole garlic bulb). We now have bags of this, which we could compost, but are hoping to do something much more creative with it all.

We'll have nearly 50 different varieties of garlic (~ 6,000 individually planted cloves), all from certified organic seed stock or grown organically in our community garden during the past 5 years, all to be grown with organic methods (it will be several years before our crops can be certified as USDA organic), starting with green garlic, then come garlic scapes, and finally the whole heads are to be harvested in July. What an adventure. :-)

Here are some photos to enjoy!

(Photo: What can I say? We are choosing to stay in Michigan but we are still loyal University of Wisconsin grads. Remembering the many years that Wisconsin's football team was at the losing end of a 67-0 type of score, we smile a little broader when Wisconsin spanks Michigan, like it did at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison this day.)

(Photo: Dick beginning the daily process of sorting, separating, and counting individual garlic cloves for planting.)

(Photo: Dick and friends Jim and Barry beginning the process of moving the enormous brush pile, mostly left by the previous owner, to a safer burn location. Guys just love tractors!)

(Photo: Dick and Barry. Not sure what they are pointing at since the burn pile will be moved a long distance from where they are pointing! You can just see Kaya, in her orange vest, between the trailer and tractor. )

(Photo: Dave and Jim planting garlic in the morning and talking about life "post-Pfizer")

(Photo: Friends - Ann (sister in law), Wendy, Cynthia all taking over from Dick the careful job of separating the garlic cloves, counting them, and getting them into a box correctly labeled with their proper variety name to be planted.)

(Photo: Geoff (one of my brothers) doing the important job of raking the next raised bed so that it is level and also removing any grass clods turned under but still trying to grow. The straw will be used to mulch the beds for the winter. )

(Photo: Kathy and Cynthia planting, planting, planting each individual clove.)

(Photo: Kaya, supervising from a shady spot. She had a great day greeting every new person who came - bark, bark, bark, bark, sniff, sniff, sniff, sniff!! She's old but does her "job" well!)

(Photo: Still planting - Wendy, Sandy, and Kathy! Shadows are getting longer, but it is still warm enough to be wearing short sleeves on this magical Michigan November day.)

(Photo: The "garlic girlz", Diana, Kathy, Sandy, Kris, Wendy, still planting garlic as the sun goes down. We were quite a team! Don't you just love Wendy's knee pads?!)

I forgot to take any pictures of our potluck at the end of the day, but suffice it say, we had great food and plenty of it. I cannot wait until we do this again next year.

Many hands truly make light and enjoyable work. It was a day of joy and nearly all the garlic is planted. The only cloves we had left to plant were: (1) a few varieties that are "auditioning", meaning we only had 1-2 cloves of brand new varieties to plant to see how they will grow in our soil and climate, and (2) the very smallest cloves which will be used for green garlic, the first harvested garlic crop of the year, usually only available at farmers' markets (unless you know us or grow your own!).

I'm going to end with a few photos of sunset on our farm. True disclosure, these photos were taken on a different day than the "garlic planting fiesta" but even though the photos from my camera don't do the evening justice, this evening was breath-takingly beautiful. I can't wait until we actually move out here!

(Photo: Shagbark hickory tree at the north-west corner of our land)

(Photo: Sunset looking at the SW corner of our land from the back of our house.)

(Photo: Sunset through the tree line at the SW corner of our land)

(Photo: Sunset at the SW corner of our farm, through the tree-line)

(Photo: Sundown looking at the SW corner of our farm)

We're on our way, shaping the future, one clove at a time. :-) Come buy from us at our local Farmers' Markets next year (Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and hopefully, even a new Farmers' Market in our own new hometown of Dixboro, MI, just east of Ann Arbor) or come help us harvest or plant in 2010!

"Cultivate your life - you are what you grow - inch by inch, row by row"

Diana Dyer, MS, RD


Anonymous said...

Sounds like there could be some MLFB projects! At least, I'd be happy to help--and I'm for sure buying up your garlic at the market next year :)

Joan Lambert Bailey said...

Well, if this doesn't make me homesick I don't know what does! I wish I could have been there to help plant the garlic, and enjoy the day. It looks like it was just amazing. I'm excited to hear more about your adventures in farming, too, Diana!

I've planted my first garlic here, and I've got no idea how it will go. The different growing season means it's a bit of a mystery for me. What varieties did you plant? I will also confess to being very happy to see that Wisconsin flag, too. :)

Diana Dyer said...

I know you were there in spirit. If you're home from Japan next July, we'd love to have you come help us harvest. We also hope to be erecting a hoop house next year so will value your experiences with that, too. :-)