Monday, July 28, 2014

Garlic and Shallots!

Last October I tucked little bulbs down into the cold, damp, sandy soil of my garden beds and have mostly ignored them since.
I covered them with straw and the layers of snow buffered the bulbs from the harsh arctic that was last winter.
I fertilized them once or twice in the spring and the automatic sprinklers kept them watered. I weeded here and there but the straw kept those away for the most part.

Almost 10 months later, their long green tops of growth have started to shrivel and dry in the summer heat. It was time to harvest! (With Eva being helpful as usual of course.)

First the shallots:
("SHAL-lot" for us Americans, "sha-LOT" for the Brittish)
Shallots look like a small onion, but they have a sweeter, and milder taste with perhaps a hint of garlic flavor.
Everyone knows onions have varieties (white, yellow, red, etc.) Shallots and garlic have varieties too. These are "French Red."
Shallots are called for most often in French cuisine and can be difficult to find in grocery stores. When you do find them, they are often either old, relatively expensive, or both.
The great thing about growing them is that one bulb planted produces a clump of usually 5 new bulbs.
They are planted poking through the surface, so all you need to do is gently scoop under them with a garden fork and separate them from each other.

I was maybe a week or two late in pulling them up, so some of the bulbs had gotten too big and split. They are still good to eat, but won't last nearly as long so they should be used up the soonest.

The pile on the left are the good ones, and the pile on the right needs to be used up sooner.

Not too bad of a harvest for 7 square feet of garden space!

On to the garlic! I planted two different varieties. "Spanish Roja" is the same type I planted last year in poor, soggy soil. This year they did so much better, like the one to the right.The other variety was "Music." It will be interesting to see how different or same they are.

Here is Dear Husband (DH) with only part of the harvest!

 Now garlic and shallots (like onions) need to be "cured" if you are not using them right away. The idea is to dry out the outer layers to give a more protective barrier against bruising and molding.
For a couple weeks they need a warm, dry location out of the sun and with good air circulation. Most places use an open shed or gazebo, but our shed gets no circulation at all.

So instead, poor DH has to suffer with a slightly garlic smelling house. Thankfully the smell won't last too long, and once they have dried in a few weeks then I can store them without rotting.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Add a Storm, Subtract Half a Tree

We had a wicked storm come through the Midwest this week. Everyone in the area was hit pretty hard, but we were pretty lucky all things considered.
We did lose electricity for about 12 hours, but some people still don't have theirs back on yet. One of our friends might not get power back until Saturday. That's 5 days! All we had to put up with was manually opening the garage door, and cereal for lunch because we have an electric stove.

Ok, the other casualty of the storm was half of our plum tree. Thankfully it fell in the yard, not on the house.
The ironic part? We had already scheduled to have that tree trimmed next week. Oh well, now they can look at it and see if the other half can be saved.

I thought we were going to have to wait a week for the tree trimmers to remove the downed tree, but I was in for a surprise. Our next door neighbor (who seems really nice but we just don't talk to that often) came over and dropped off his chainsaw for us to use! Maybe it had something to do with the heaping handful of snow peas from my garden that I gave him the day before the storm.
Chain saws for snow peas... that's my kind of barter!

Dear Husband (DH) learned and used a chainsaw for the first time!

 We are left with a large pile of branches. I tried to call someone to haul them away, but with no luck. There are so many trees and branches down around town, they are focused on cleaning up the schools and businesses. They aren't even taking non-critical residential calls yet.

We are so blessed that no one was hurt, and nothing major was damaged. It even gave us a chance to make friends with a neighbor!