After about eight days of some hard work, all the garlic is finally out of the ground. We figured 75% of the bulbs pulled would end up seed quality. That figure is probably closer to 90% now that we've seen all of them, which is great! I was surprised at the number of jumbo sized garlic we had--those bulbs over 3 inches in diameter--we had numerous. Every variety turned out wonderful.
When to harvest garlic is a tricky subject, especially for first year growers. Too early and your bulbs will be small, too late and garlic storage life will suffer. We hovered over our garlic when the scapes started showing, making at least one inspection a day. We monitored bulb size and kept our eye on the leaf color. Once the leaves started to die off, we started harvesting. I think we timed it pretty well.
For curing, we hung the garlic up out of the sun to dry. We added a few fans to aid in the drying process. Garlic can be eaten any time after harvest, but curing the bulbs ensures they will store well. It also amplifies the flavors.
There's a few other gourmet/seed garlic growers around the country. Most of them do not bother testing their garlic for white rot and bloat nematode; the main enemies of garlic. We felt our customers would like the piece of mind knowing our garlic is free of these issues. So, we had Washington State Department of Agriculture Seed Program take a few samples. They came back perfectly normal, as they should.
In other news, a bit of time has been spent putting up a semi-permanent fence for part of our back pasture. The intent is to have a large area for a cow, goats, and chickens to roam. It's about 1. 1/2 acres or so. We wanted to give a good size area for our future chickens to free range while keeping our bird-loving Labradors out! We figured we may as well build it beefy enough to hold some larger animals while we're at it. We made the fence out of 4' 12 gauge field fence, T posts with Wedge Locs (to eliminate large diameter wooden corner braces), and some hot wire just in case. It's a fairly simple setup and we can expand it with relatively little work if needed.
The chicken coop is nearly done. That's good because we placed our order for our Icelandic chickens! We're finishing up the vents and a bit of other interior work. Being that I do not have any carpentry skills or love of carpentry in my DNA, building the interior of a chicken coop has been tedious. For example, even though I Youtube'd instructions on how to build a simple chicken door, it still took me the better part of a day to make a 10"x10" guillotine door. In a not-so-distant past life I would've sought the assistance of Amazon and purchased a sliding door, but times have changed! Anyway, I made it through the experience with little cussing, a few cuts, and a mostly functional door.