Maybe it was my Asian upbringing that taught me never to waste food, as my family used and ate every part of the vegetable, fish, chicken, pig or cow that we brought home. Or maybe it’s my ever-growing curiosity when it comes to food from the land… but when I walk around the garden, looking at all my lovely plants, I always think, Can I eat that part?
You waited seven, maybe nine months, for all that homegrown garlic to finish growing. Now that you’ve dug it all up, you want to savor it for as long as possible until the next garlic crop is ready.
This is when curing becomes your friend.
Curing is the process of letting your garlic dry down in preparation for long-term storage. Curing and storing garlic allows you to enjoy the flavor of your summer harvest well into winter… and one of my favorite things about garlic is that it still stays fresh long after it’s been plucked from the ground. No pickling, no canning. Just a simple head of garlic that looks and tastes the same as the day you pulled it.
I’m going into my fourth season in Central Oregon soon, but only my first as a gardener. (Side note: Whoa, eight months already? Where has all that time gone?!)
If you’ve been following me since my move from Los Angeles to Bend last fall, you might remember that we’re currently in a rental home while we continue to explore all the neighborhoods here and settle into our new town. (Which, by the way, has been an absolute blast. You can see some of our local adventures on my Instagram, and I’ll be following up this post to answer some of the most frequently asked questions I’ve received since the move.)
Tomato planting is something I look forward to every spring. I start counting the days from the time I sow my first seed to when I might have that first vine-ripened tomato in my hand, juices dripping down as I take a bite of the sweet, succulent flesh before it even makes it back to the kitchen.
If you’ve never tasted a homegrown tomato, you haven’t truly lived. And if you’ve never started your own tomato plants from seed, you’re definitely missing out — on the thousands and thousands of beautiful, colorful heirlooms that exist in this world.
Take a look! My only advice for choosing tomato seeds is to go with ones you’ve never heard of before, and to simply start with your favorite color! (I personally love purple and black tomatoes… it might be a mental thing, but I feel the darker the flesh, the smokier and richer it tastes.)
Tomatoes are fairly fuss-free. They don’t require any special conditions to sprout and they grow relatively quickly. But once they start producing more foliage, they need a lot of love to perform their best — their best meaning lots of flowers and lots of fruit.
Over the weekend, surrounded by fragrant allium blooms, I harvested the last of last season’s crop — a mix of red, white, and yellow onions that I had grown from seed back in October. I loved the display of pompom-like flowers, even though onions are not supposed to bolt (and why not?). Even then, only a handful of onions out of the hundred I had planted had bolted.
What causes some onions to flower while others do not?
It’s been seven months since I moved to Bend. When I meet new folks in town or talk to friends back home, one of the main questions I’m always asked is, What do I miss most about LA?
Aside from the obvious — our community of friends and the good fortune of having lived near the ocean — the one thing I really, truly miss about being in a big city is the variety of Asian food and Asian markets within close proximity.
Your garlic cloves went in the ground last October, grew through winter and spring, and now that it’s May, they’re ready to be plucked from the garden, right? Well, maybe.
Garlic is one of those things where timing is everything, and the harvest period can span from late spring through late summer, depending on the weather and the variety of garlic grown. But since the bulbs are all underground, how can you really tell when your garlic is ripe for the pickin’?
The short answer is: It’s all in the leaves.
After a particularly rainy and dismal spring, followed by May Gray (the sometime predecessor of California’s coastal June Gloom), a small patch of my garlic plants started developing white and yellowish-orange flecks on their leaves.
The flecks intensified, spread to neighboring garlic plants, and soon were infecting entire leaves, causing some to wilt and die off early. I even had the disease consume an entire plant, but luckily, it was close to harvest time and the garlic bulb survived.