When I talk to people about growing garlic, I always tell them, "It's the easiest thing ever. You get it in the ground just before Halloween, give it a little mulch around Thanksgiving, and you dig it up just after the 4th of July. You don't have to water it or do much to it--it just grows." The timing in that advice is always close to right, and having the holidays as a tickler helps me remember what to do when.
Except for this year. Our winter-that-was-not-winter has taken it's toll, and by the end of last week the shoots on my garlic were so dry that the bulbs clearly needed to be dug up. One evening I went out to put away the chickens and just impulsively started digging until the job was done.
I think--given how dry out winter was, in addition to the warm temperatures--I should have broken down and watered them a few times. But, while the heads are smaller than usual, I planted so much extra this year that we should be self-sufficient in garlic until 2013, at least, so no big loss.
After letting the garlic hang for a month to cure--this year we're trying our screened-in back porch, just because I like seeing them there--I'll trim off the long stems, carefully brush off the dirt, and wrap them in newspaper for storage in our basement.
In other weird garden news, I harvested five big wax peppers this weekend. Typically those don't start going crazy until the really hot weather hits. I have no tomatoes. I have no squash or cucumbers. But I have peppers. I can already tell that this summer is going to be a learning experience in the garden!