Harvesting Garlic for the Winter

One of my many goals this year is to provide more of our food through subsistence activities. While all of our hunting and fishing won’t take place until we are back in the village in August, I was still determined to get some work done this summer. My mom, who is a serious gardener, offered to help me with my goal. We decided that yesterday was the perfect time to start working on our first project, so we jumped right in!

My mom has roughly 150 garlic plants in her garden (the garden pictured is one of multiple – it is affectionately referred to as “The Swamp”). All of her plants were ready for harvest this week, so we knew we needed to get to it. It’s been HOT in the Midwest, so of course when we went out to harvest the garlic the temperatures were already climbing into the upper 80’s. The garlic was ready though, so we couldn’t wait.

My mom and I headed out with various digging tools – a pitchfork, a shovel, and a spade. We weren’t sure which would be best for loosening the ground around the garlic plants, so we thought we’d use a little trial and error. The ground was much too hard to just pull them out, so a tool was needed. The shovel worked the worst because you couldn’t get close to the garlic without cutting into it. Luckily, we didn’t use the shovel for more than just a couple of plants. Then, we moved onto the other two tools. I liked using the spade the best, but many websites recommend using the garden fork. I think either could serve the purpose well.

Digging up the garlic was hard work. Temperatures continuing to climb, high humidity due to building thunderstorms, and extremely hard dirt made the work slow and exhausting. When we were all finished though it was very satisfying to look at our wheelbarrow full of garlic. We then put the garlic up to dry and it will remain that way for awhile. Once it is finished drying my mom will store it in her underground food storage area. Thankfully, because of my help (and probably the fact that she loves me too) I will be able to take some of the garlic back home with me at the end of the summer.

I’m pretty excited at the prospect of having easy access to fresh garlic this winter. Fresh garlic is something that we never get at our village store. Last year we shipped a bunch of garlic in from Anchorage, but knowing that I helped provide it for us this year is definitely special.

3 Responses to Harvesting Garlic for the Winter

  1. love that you got to help your mom with the harvest. Is the summer not long enough to grow garlic in Alaska? An do many people have gardens up there, my niece had a had time with the elk eating her gardens.

    • The summer is long enough for growing and Alaska actually has some pretty decent growing weather and a lengthy season in a few places in the state. If we were planning to be there over the summer I definitely would have had a garden this year. Hope your nieces garden doesn’t get too torn up by the elk! Where is she at again? I can’t remember!

  2. I was very happy you were able to help me with digging the garlic, especially since the spade bucked me off and sent me flying to the ground twice!! Haha! When “the swamp” dries out, the soil bakes to a nice hard shell. I need to add more mulch of some sort to help make the soil more “workable”.

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