Sunday, December 15, 2013

Plaiting the Garlic

Well, the great garlic plant-off is over, and the results are in. It is definitely better to plant in March than on the shortest day of the year - traditional onions these are not.

Every year I have a bit of an experiment with how to plait the garlic, and I think I finally have it.

I always pull my garlic when the tops start to brown off. Reading up a bit, it is suggested you let them flower, and pull them when the flowers die down. I find they rarely flower here before dieing down - in this case the stuff left in longest was starting to show signs of rust.

The process I went through was:

1. Pull each one, and roughly knock the soil off (closest to camera).

2. Cut off excess roots (blunts the secateurs). If you want exhibition standard at this stage wash them as well.

3. Strip back excess leaves. (I usually do them one at a time, but left them grouped for the picture to give an idea of how much to take. I think I could have taken more)

4. Bundle them up at that stage and leave them four or five days to wilt, so the stems become more flexible.

5. This year I rolled the stems fairly aggressively with the rolling pin to try to make them more pliable. I put a flexible plastic cutting sheet between the stem and roller, so my rolling pin would not smell forever of garlic. Bashing with a meat tenderiser also crossed my mind. After all that, I don't think it helped much.

6. Tie together four small plants, and hook to an anchor point so you can get some tension on the plait.

7. Start the plait, left side in to the centre of the other two, then right side in. Add two plants to the middle "cord", making one higher up the plait than the other.

8. Cross the two side cords in, left then right, add two more to the middle. Continue on this way, continually twisting left in then right in,  then adding two at the middle, until desired length is reached, or you run out of garlic.

9. Unhook, and tie off the end - either an overhand knot of the leaves, or tie some string around it and make a loop to hang.

The ones on the left, above, were planted mid-June, the ones on the right (plus the small bunch above) were planted in March. Definitely a higher yield for the earlier ones.

Next year I might try stripping them back even further (to make the stems thinner) and putting three new ones in each addition. Main problem is, just when I think I have the plaiting right, I run out of garlic!


Blogger sassi said...

Looks great! I missed out on planting any garlic this year (and my Mum only planted one or two) so it's store bought for me for another year!

9:16 PM  

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