In the Field: Knowing when to harvest chives and garlic
Farmer D harvests chives and garlic and explains how gardening by the moon tells you when they're ready. Earth, air, fire and water signs can tell you when to plant and when to harvest items in your garden. (Meredith Darlington/MNN and Nick Scott/MNN)
Farmer D: A couple of things about chives: one, the flowers are edible. So you can pluck these little purple flowers off, use them as garnish in soup or salad. They're really good. What I like to do is clean it out first before I cut it, like kind of make sure that there's no weeds or straw kind of growing in the plant. Grab my whole bunch of chives, right? So I got the whole thing in a bunch, go a couple of inches above the ground, harvest the whole thing like that. What I do, is I kind of hold it up and give it a little shake, kind of shake some of the stuff out, pull out the pine straw and there's our bunch of chives. And these chives will just keep coming back, they're perennial so you just keep cutting them back and they keep growing.
Let’s pull one garlic, just for kicks and giggles, see how it's doing. This is green garlic, where you can still eat the greens, it's not quite ripe. What you’ll do here is kind of take this kind of dying outer edge off, and sometimes you can make fun little faces with kids, little rasta heads. You see garlic keeps sending out leaves, and then right out of the middle send up a shoot that’s straight, it's not a leaf, it's a stem. And it has a curl to it. And that’s why they call it a pigtail, because it does like a little pigtail curl. And what happens is, if you just let it do its thing, it will unfurl and it will go straight, and be really straight and then it will form what is called the bulbil on the top, which is where the seeds for the garlic are. Nobody I know grows garlic from seed though; it takes two years, so you grow it from the clove. Each bulb has cloves and you plant the cloves and you get garlic in nine months instead of two years from seed. But what you can do, right when it starts to unfurl, you pick it and you can actually eat it, it's still tender enough to chop up and put in a salad or put into a salad dressing in a blender, or put it on a pizza. It's really good. And then what happens is instead of the energy going to form the seed and the bulbil, the energy in the plant goes back down and makes a little bigger root, a little bigger bulb. If you're actually planting or harvesting by the moon, you want to harvest garlic in a root sign, or an air sign. Not a water sign. And that’s because in the lunar cycle, in the different signs there's a lot more moisture in the air in a water sign.
When you plant with the moon cycles, you want to plant leafy vegetables in a water sign because that’s related to leaves. You want to plant fruiting vegetables in a fire sign. Root vegetables in an earth sign, same thing’s true with harvesting them. So you want to kind of watch the weather a little bit, make sure there's not too much moisture in the soil. Garlic-- that’s a big issue with garlic. You can cure garlic for ten months and store it, if it's harvested right, at the right time, the right moisture and all that stuff.
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