Wednesday, June 16, 2010

An "Alliums" Harvest

I harvested most of the regular onions, multiplying onions, and garlic -- plants that are all in the Allium genus -- over the weekend. The job was an aromatic one! I am lucky that the house has a shaded front porch; I can leave them all outside on trays to dry for a while.

There aren't as many onions as usual this year, because I had given more room to the garlic. They came out pretty well, though, and we will be eating these for a couple of months.

I had also planted some little bulbs from the multiplying onions (sometimes called "potato onions" though I don't know why), and these made more little onions. Every year I debate whether to replant these -- using the little onions in the kitchen is a bit of a hassle -- but every year I plant a few that I have saved from the summer's harvest. Even though they are a hassle, they are free!

The tray in the center of the photo below holds the harvest from some grocery store garlic that I had planted. Originally, this is all I had planned to plant, and it would be enough to last until about Thanksgiving. The bulbs need to dry for several weeks before use, to let the skins dry enough to easily peel away from the cloves, so it really represents about four month's worth for my family.

Then, a friend wanted to try some different garlics, but her garden space is even more limited than mine, so we agreed to split a "starter pack" of different garlics.

The tray on the left holds the variety Inchelium Red; the tray on the right holds the Polish White. I didn't have as many little cloves of the Polish White as the other kinds, so I didn't expect to have as much of a harvest from that variety, but it is interesting that the bulbs are so much smaller than for the other varieties. This is something to remember for my yard!

The bulbs that I harvested are all soft-neck varieties of garlic. There are also some hard-neck garlics out in the garden, the variety Chesnock Red and the one heirloom bulb from Rabun County, Ga. The leaves on these are still green, rather than the shades of tan and brown that the other garlics had all been turning, so I left them to mature a while longer.

The hard-neck varieties form scapes, which are the parts that usually flower and set seed. In the picture above, they are the curved bits at the top. I have read that these are edible, and I decided to find out for myself just how edible they were. I trimmed off the scapes to saute in olive oil to serve on pasta with peas and grated parmesan cheese. The scapes made the olive oil nicely garlicky, and the bulbous ends of the scapes, the part where the flowers were forming inside, were good to eat, but the long pointy ends were tough.

When you have a garden, every day is an adventure!


  1. Excellent reference material here, thanks. I make pesto out of the scapes, adding parsley to use for garlic toast. My onions are a month away, not even peas yet. Lost 6 mature cherry tree crop to the wet, no berries this year. It is still raining, but replanted peppers and basil and squash and melon, hope third time is the charm. My husband says we need a greenhouse, i am now in agreement. Peace

  2. YUM! My house and porch looks like it has been taken over by alliums! They are hanging everywhere, and the aroma is intense! Those garlic scapes go for big bucks to the restauranteurs, it's considered a seasonal delicacy and they get to charge accordingly, LOL

  3. Ruralrose, I am so sorry that the superabundant rain is doing so much damage to your garden, and having to replace fruit trees must be fairly disheartening. It sounds more and more like a greenhouse would be really helpful at your place!

    Erin, I wouldn't have thought that my family would be all that impressed by high dollar foods, but when we harvested a LOT of chantarelle mushrooms on a walk with the Mushroom Club this spring they were unusually pleased to be eating something for free that would have cost $20-plus per pound at the store!


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