Last fall I planted a few rows of heirloom Inchelium Red softneck garlic because I liked the fact that it was found on the land of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation here in Washington state. I’ve grown hardneck garlic for a few years, but this was my first foray into cultivating softneck garlic.
Unlike hardneck garlic, softneck bulbs don’t produce scapes, those curlicues that seem to shoot up overnight from the green fronds of each plant. I love to cut scapes and cook them up, or turn them into pesto with dandelions and cress, for our first taste of fresh garlic each year. During the same week in July that my hardneck plants sent their scapes up, my Inchelium Red plants all fell over just-like-that to signal that they were ready to be pulled up. At least, that’s what I was hoping they were saying, since otherwise it meant that I had failed horribly in my garlic farming.
Luckily, they looked beautiful, in a dirty garlic sort of way, when I pulled them up and set them to cure on my DIY rack: two bamboo poles lashed together with yarn and suspended from cup hooks in my garage eaves.
When the bulbs were dry and ready, I followed the directions in this video from Christy Wilhelmi of Gardenerd.com, using string from our chicken feed sacks and twisty ties salvaged from toy packaging over the years, and I made myself two chunky garlic braids.
They’re not perfect, but I love them. When it felt like fall the other night and I was craving soup, I had fresh cloves of garlic hanging on our shady dining room wall, ready to drop into the pot with our fresh kale and potatoes.
Do you have another garlic braiding technique that you like better? Or maybe a way to corral hardneck garlic for aesthetically pleasing storage? Please let me know if you do!