Most members celebrate the garlic harvest because they love garlic, but I celebrate it for other reasons, too. More or less coinciding with the summer solstice, the garlic harvest marks the season’s climax. June is the month when everything is happening all at once. There are still entire fields to plant, tomatoes to stake, potatoes to mulch. Meanwhile, the weeds are growing at breakneck speed. And of course, harvests and CSA distributions are underway, requiring their own share of labor and time.
To me, the garlic harvest is the season’s dramatic crescendo. The job itself is one of the biggest. Over six thousand bulbs are pulled from the fields, sorted by size, tied into tight bunches, and hung in the barn to cure. When I hang the last bunch and climb down from the loft, I breathe a deep sigh of relief, knowing one of the last major jobs is done. Of course there’s plenty of work still ahead, but it’s mainly the kind of work than can be done on auto-pilot—weeding, harvesting, irrigating. You get into the rhythm, and you can cruise all the day to December.
One more reason to celebrate the garlic harvest: it marks the beginning of a new season. For the past six years, we’ve been saving our own seed. So the job of selecting the best bulbs from the 2016 harvest is the very first task we undertake towards the 2017 season.