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Thursday, October 15, 2020

My Practically-Free Garlic Haul

I showed you my garden potato haul a few weeks ago. Now I'll show you my garden garlic haul, all grown with sneaky little cloves of garlic that have hidden in various spots of my garden over the years.

About 15 years ago, I decided to plant some grocery store garlic cloves in my garden. Yes, I read the warnings -- viruses, pests, tiny crops. I decided to give it a try anyway. So, I planted 1 head of garlic (about 10-12 cloves) in my garden. The next summer, I dug about 10 heads of garlic from those cloves. I replanted some of these new garlic heads in a new spot in my garden the next year. And so on, and so on. 

Garden garlic is a bit like garden potatoes in that there are always a few sneaky heads that remain hidden from my trowel when harvesting and basically replant themselves for the next year. Most of the time, I'd notice in spring they came up but then forget about them by the time the tops died back.

This past spring, I found several spots in my garden with new garlic growth. As I had a hunch my garden would be more important in 2020 than previous years, I dug up what I found and grouped them all together in one single spot so I could more easily harvest them this summer. I'm not even sure how many individual cloves I planted last spring, maybe 40 or more, just a guess. In late August/early September, the tops were dying back and I decided to dig my garlic patch. This is what I harvested.

Some of these are full-sized heads of garlic, some are smaller heads of garlic, and many are swollen single cloves. All of these are usable in cooking.

To give you an idea of how much garlic I harvested, the head just to the left of the pile is about the size of a regular supermarket head of garlic. I harvested what I think is about 1  2/3 to 1  3/4 pounds, or the equivalent of about 20 or so heads of garlic. This is more than I would normally buy in the fall to last through winter and into early spring for our family of 5, years ago. 

I had left the garlic in a box for a month, curing for storage. The other day, I sorted my garlic according to use: those cloves that need using right away (a couple had begun to sprout), those for planting, and the bountiful remainder for use over the next several months. Yesterday, I cleared a spot in one bed and planted 3 heads (34 cloves, total) of the best of what I harvested in September. I'm hoping for a plentiful garlic harvest in 2021, too.

I've noticed a few green sprouts still in the garden that I missed either last spring or this summer when digging. I thought I did a thorough job. But that's just how sneaky garden garlic can be. I'll be finding garlic in my garden for years to come, all descendants from that one supermarket head planted many years ago.


  1. Garlic is such a tasty aromatic to add to meals! My husband grows a few--I'm not sure how he started them. I go through quite a bit of garlic so if you're anything like me, you should be saving a nice amount of money by doing this. Think of all the savory soups you can make with it as the weather cools off!

    1. Hi Kris,
      I agree. Garlic really adds wonderful flavor to so many meals that would otherwise taste flat. We use a lot of garlic, too. I didn't stop to figure how much I save on garlic, but I think it sells for 50 cents/head in the grocery store. That's about $10 or so for this haul! And garden garlic is so much fresher and more pungent, so I tend to use a little less than I would if using grocery store garlic.
      Yum, soup weather is here. I'm making beef stew for tonight. I'll be using garlic, potatoes, greens, and herbs from the garden. Should be tasty!

      Have a lovely weekend, Kris!

  2. Some how this makes me think of the garlic version of the loaves and fishes story. :)

    1. Hi Live and Learn,
      That made me smile! Perhaps not an instantaneous miracle, but one of the miracles that God put into our world to provide for us -- food that multiplies itself over time and materials that multiply through growth for building shelter, etc.

      Wishing you a wonderful weekend, Live and Learn.

  3. Garlic is so delicious and I have always loved it. Beef stew sounds so good but there's not enough people home this weekend so I'll wait until next week.

    Things will change for us toward the end of the year. Our son just purchased a home and once things are all arranged he's leaving us. That means I'll no longer meal prep for 4 adults. My daughter is still home and may not even go back to her country this school year. She might even move in with her brother for a while and then we'll be empty nesters again for a while!


    1. Hi Alice,
      Well, first, congratulations to your son on buying his first home! This is an exciting time in his life, for sure. Yes, meal prep will change for you. Maybe this will give you some extra time to pursue something new for your life. I think about the empty nest situation myself, often. Taking care of a household of people has become almost my entire existence. An empty nest will certainly open possibilities to me that didn't exist all these years.

      The stew was so delicious. There was a little leftover, so I thinned it with bouillon and added lots of extra vegetables plus lentils to turn it into a beef and vegetable soup for lunch the next day.

      I hope your week is off to a great start, Alice!

  4. Hi, Lili--

    Loved the serendipitous garlic story (and Live and Learn's comparison.)

    This month we had two truly-free produce blessings -- a whole ice-chest full of home-grown apples (from close friends exhausted by processing their big harvest), and about 3 cups of home-made plums (from a friendly stranger outside the local smalltown market.)

    DH loves to use our steam juicer to make juice, so he made a couple of batches of apple juice, which we shared back with our friends' family, and DS and I also made a huge apple crisp.

    I hunted through some old cookbooks and found a spiced plum sauce recipe which I used as a base for a nice poultry accompaniment for an impromptu leftover chicken gravy served over a what's-on-hand version of sausage dressing. DH didn't realize the sauce was plums, not cranberries, but I liked the different smoothness and richness of the flavor with the plums. Yummy!

    Best to everybody! Sara

    1. Hi Sara,
      I'm glad to hear of your produce blessings and that you were able to put it all to such good use. I haven't had fresh-pressed apple juice in several years. What a treat! And nice that you could share back with the gifter of the apples.

      Aren't old cookbooks fun? I find some of the most interesting recipes in older cookbooks. Your spiced plum sauce sounds delectable. I'll have to search for and try something similar next summer when we have plums again. I did make my usual spicy plum chutney again this fall for canning. Maybe sort of similar?

      Have a wonderful weekend, Sara!

  5. Lili--

    I've not had pressed apple juice, but we love our Mehu-Meija (spelling?)juicer. It's so easy and quick, and the juice has a lovely pink color from the skins.

    I'm guessing my sauce was probably very similar to your chutney. I actually think a chutney recipe might have been the one I worked from, but I forgot because the finished product was gooier and smoother than I think of for chutney. I don't have the recipe where I am right now, but as I recall, I just used the plums (sliced off the pit length-wise in sixths), some raisins, a little vinegar, some honey, some crystallized ginger, some salt, two dashes of cardamom, and one dash of black pepper.

    I love my old cookbooks best, though I'm blessed with quite a varied collection. Lots that is interesting and unusual. DS and I also made a nice Swiss dinner this month from a regional cookbook I bought him. Yummy!

    You have a good weekend, too! Sara

    1. Thanks, Sara!
      A Swiss dinner sounds interesting.


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