The fall-planted garlic suddenly seems ready for harvest. The scapes were harvested several weeks ago and the top leaves are yellow and brown. If they stay in the ground too long, the stem breaks off when you pull the bulb.
Then you cure the bulbs by hanging them up to dry out for 6 to 8 weeks. The paper skin forms so that they can be stored and used throughout the next season. In our case, we will use some, and leave the rest as seed garlic for next season. I can’t wait for mid-October!
In this black dirt region, famed for its onions, you can begin to smell onion wafting in with the breeze. You see flattened fields of disarrayed yellow and green, in contrast to the normally blue-green fields of soldier-straight onion plants. The onions collected last week were hung up to cure and are coming home this week. The green tops have yellowed and dried out and a thin paper wraps around each bulb.
Remember the radish that had been planted too closely and underharvested and bolted? We didn’t even have time to mow or till it under. I looked some alien-looking seedpods and wondered, but is it edible? Turns out they are and quite a delicacy at that! They have a more subtle radish flavor, with less of the radish bitterness. There’s even a variety that is primarily grown for its pods, albeit with a less appealing name “Rat tail radish”. Each plant can produce up to hunds of pods. I can already see specialty pickles somewhere on a menu.
Some of the buckwheat plants that came up early are setting flowers and seeds. I am curious to try making kasha, which is a toasted buckwheat. When a plant is 2/3 brown, you cut the plant and let it dry. When dried, thresh the seeds by beating bunches of it against a screen.
Last weekend I took to macheting away the weeds that were suffocating the flowers. Yes, macheti-ing is a new word just made up. It seems the plants like it. These flowers are all edible and can be added in small amounts to salads. I’ve read about freezing them inside ice cubes for a pretty drink garnish – even for me that is way too much work (do you know what I’d have to do to wrangle that much freezer space just to make pretty ice cubes?)
Some spots are showing up on cucumber plants, and some varieties of winter squash and pumpkins. It’s some kind of blight. I can’t claim ignorance since a long-time farmer told me that’s how it starts. Maybe I need to explore fungicide preparations and look into compost teas and neem oil.