Harvesting Our Roots
Families and gardens have a good deal in common--neither can grow without healthy roots. And the healthiest roots are grown in the healthiest soil--soil that's replenished, tended, fed, watered, and most of all loved!
GARLIC! This was our second year planting all hardneck garlic. We planted it on a cold November night in 2019 after getting home from performing a music concert. Piling out of the van, we threw on our outdoor gear and trudged through thick and thin, mud and snow, to get those precious cloves all in the ground before the soil froze solid. Got those cloves in a bit under the wire, but we got them under anyhow--Hallelujah!!
Nine months after planting... it's a warm, sunny day in late July, and Amberlin, Jenessa, and Brooklyn are having fun digging up the hardneck garlic!
Our varieties include Spanish Roja, Red Russian, and German Red. We strung them up in the barn rafters, then threw open the barn doors so they could be cured by the warm winds of mid-summer...
Next up ONIONS! Our biggest ones grew from seedlings that Linnae transplanted in April... they became gigantic!
Below are our onion sets... Not as big as the ones from seeds, but not too tiny either.
Soon the onion family went to join the garlic family in the barn... with Jenessa overseeing!
The last days of September was gold fever season in this part of the west, so we shouldered our tools and hit the gold fields together to discover that our backyard had become a foodie's boom town--the El Dorado of taters!
People love potatoes. They're like gold you can grow. And eat. Mashed, slashed, roasted, or raw, who'll pass them up? Anyone can grow them, anyone can cook them, and everyone should eat them!
Looks like these young prospectors staked their claim early. Forget about sluices and pans--gold panning in a garden requires only two hands, a shovel, and an old feed bag for a poke to tote your treasure in!
That's our pay dirt...
These whoppers were over 2lbs each!
By the way, did you know that potatoes give seeds from the flowers? They look like little green tomatoes and inside are all the potato varieties one could ask for! Mom planted some of the seeds in the spring time and we got a plethora of small potato varieties!
Well... back to the garlic loft... By now the hardnecks are cured, and Amberlin, Linnae, Charles, Julia, and Jenessa have clipped off the tops and packed them away into bags for winter storage. When cold and flu season hits, you can make one guess as to what we'll be eating... (yep! Garlic--the gold that cures your cold! *Watch for our next blog post where we'll share with you the cold-buster, virus-puncher powerhouse Amberlin makes with it!)
On October 13th we planted our next-year's round of garlic, and the next day we brought in the beet and carrot harvest.
Cutting off beet tops before packing the roots away...
A day or two before harvesting the carrots some surprise visitors snuck in--they discovered that carrots and their tops make a pretty tasty snack! (Thankfully those deer visitors didn't do too much damage...)
Our lunch included Ibores goat cheese with carrots and apples. Our version of fast-food!
After lunch the weather turned cold. Rain and snow prompted us to hurry and preserve the roots from getting wet...
Look at that sky!
This is what it looked like outside two days later. We were relieved to know that our beets, carrots, and potatoes were safely tucked away from the dangers of frost and spoilage. Another Hallelujah!
Over the next few days we took the carrots and beets out of the bags and layered them in peat moss. After years of wrestling with carrots-gone-rubbery in the root cellar (even when burying them in sand) we've fixed on the method of peat moss layering, with great success! Have you ever tried it?
First, we put a moderate layer of peat moss on the bottom of a rubbermaid container. Next we lay down a single layer of carrots, each spaced apart enough to keep them from touching each other. After that first layer we sprinkle the carrots with peat moss--just enough to cover them--and then continue with the spacing and layering and peat-moss sprinkling until the rubbermaid is full. A never-fail method to keep your carrots and beats crunchy all through the winter.
Later in the day we moved outside when the sun decided to shine :)
And the tops don't go to waste! What we don't eat ourselves in beet-green stir fries and dried carrot-top powder that makes its way into anything we can sneak it into, we give to the goats, cows, and chickens which returns to us in the form of milk, meat, and eggs!
"As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all. In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good." Ecclesiastes 11:5-6
Roots in the ground are like bones in the womb, and good roots are like real gold. Gold that feeds the body and the soul.
Let's get back to our roots, everybody! Make sure you have some seeds for planting this spring... you'll need them and won't regret it.