Life Under the Quick Hoops

Spinach-under-hoop

It’s not winter yet but you wouldn’t know it for looking around. November 14th and we’ve already had three hard freezes and more than a foot of snow. The roads have been crappy and we’ve had to close the store early a couple times to get our folks home safely. That being said, all is well in the winter garden. Everything we planted under the quick hoops is alive, healthy and growing. The veggies we’ve harvested have been great. Cold weather  definitely improves a lot of vegetables.

For the first time ever we’re feeling good about the winter garden. In the past we were never able to really get it going. We’d futz around, building cold frames and laying things out but we always ran out of time before getting deep into the actual gardening. The cold frames were the problem. They’re clunky, fragile and expensive. They’re also time consuming to build, awkward to store and crazy heavy. Trying to get them up swallowed all our time.

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Fall Garlic

Standing-garlic

It’s a tired old garden saw but it’s true: big garlic cloves grow big garlic bulbs. And, at least where garlic is concerned, bigger is definitely better. In the kitchen small bulbs are a pain. They take longer to peel. They’re hard to handle. They slow you down. And they often taste “hotter” than bigger bulbs of the same variety. At the market, it’s almost  impossible to sell small bulbs. People are used to seeing garlic of a certain size and while they gobble up anything larger, they flat refuse to go small. In the field all the growers I know try to manage bulb size by only planting the largest cloves. That’s certainly what we do. The problem is that seed garlic comes as whole bulbs. And many bulbs, especially the softneck varieties (like the Silverskin sold in grocery stores), are a melange of different sized cloves. There are little ones and there are big ones.  There are runts and there are giants. Plant a runt, get a runt. Plant a giant, get a decent size bulb.

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