Planting Garlic and Taking in the Garden Before the First Frost

arly fall and spring find my dad behind his tiller a lot.  As we take in the veggies and pull out the plants at the end of the growing season, he goes over the ground once more.  

With the first threat of frost coinciding almost with the first day of fall,  we were forced to bring inside the last of the produce that we hadn’t yet harvested and is not frost resistant: squash, eggplant, melons, and soybeans.  We had some extra help this weekend from my sister Missy and her husband Stephen, and my sister Paula and her friends, Zach and Kinzy, who were visiting for the weekend. Here they are gathering the eggplants off the prolific plants.  I need to find a good way to preserve eggplant, and would love some suggestions.  My family grows two varieties of squash lately, butternut and buttercup.  We have grown and loved the butternut variety for decades.  It’s smooth texture is impressive, and is great for any use.   They have also been growing buttercup for a good five years, and my mom prefers it to the butternut.   The squash are placed on palettes in the quonset or the barn, and if necessary, covered with a blanket, to keep them from freezing for the next several weeks. Soon we will dig potatoes and do the same with them, but right now the ground is so incredibly hard because we haven’t seen any rain to speak of in two months.  We are considering watering the potatoes just to soften the ground so we can get them out.

On Saturday, we also re-planted our garlic, which is recommended to be done in early to mid September.  Garlic is grown and harvested in a two year cycle.  An individual node or ball of the cluster that grows from the top of the garlic’s tall stem -> is planted in the fall.  The pointy outside end is planted down and with become the root, opposite of what I would have guessed.  The next fall it will have grown into an edible bulb but is still quite small and so is left in the ground, and the following fall, harvested at a nicer size.  My mom has a bunch in their first year and their second year at all times, and doesn’t really keep them straight.  She just digs them all up in August when the tops of the plants have dried up, sorts them by size, and re-plants the ones that look like they need another year just a month later.   We planted the garlic about four inches apart and four inches deep in rows 15 inches apart.  You can see in the picture a string stretched between two rods to help us plant straight rows.       My dad likes things neat and ordered:)   My mom dries both the garlic and onions on window screens in the corn crib, where they are protected from frost but there is lots of air movement, and brings them into the basement of the house before the first hard freeze.   We planted six rows! of garlic because not all of them will come up.

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