Monday, June 20, 2011

Pungent and Sweet

I had a red letter day in my garden this weekend:  I harvested my first garlic crop!  The stalks had fallen over and the lowest leaves had browned, letting me know that it was time to dig garlic.  I used a small garden fork to reach under and lift out the cloves, as any cutting or bruising of the cloves at harvest would ruin the keeping qualities.  These were late planted last fall from a few very small leftover cloves I ran across in the bottom of the bin in the feed and seed store where I went to buy chicken scratch.  Despite that sad start, I harvested 25 very nice garlic heads!  I have then spread out in a basket, stored in a breezy, shady spot under the house to dry.  After a few weeks I will brush off the soil and try to braid the stalks and hang the garlic in the kitchen for future use.  The individual cloves are small, so it will be a bit of a pain to use, but the ones I cooked this weekend were delicious.  I am now a big fan of growing my own garlic, so will order my cloves early (soon actually, as they need to be planted in late summer/early fall).

This weekend was also the first honey harvest of the year.  I have never seen anything like it.  We harvested 3 full supers of capped honey from Grace's hive.  That was 77 pounds of clean, clear honey!  We have another 3 or so pounds that drained out of the wax cappings, making a total of 80 pounds of honey from this one hive.  Now that is a good honey crop!  It is very dark and spicy, and I know we are going to enjoy it.  Here you see the bees walking on top of the perfect, white wax cappings over the honey, and then the cappings cut off and laying in the pan, with the frame of exposed honey on edge, ready to go into the extractor.  I feel a little better now about my disastrous year with the bees last year.  I hope these stay healthy through the rest of the summer!