Monthly Archives: October 2012

Planting Garlic


Last weekend, my oldest daughter and I conducted a rookie gardening operation…planting garlic.  She was my photographer for much of this post. 🙂

In early September, I ordered my garlic at Seed Savers Exchange.  It was delivered at the beginning of October.  I am not sure of availability from other companies but it appears that Seed Savers are sold out for the season.  So…for planning for next year…think ahead!  According to their Garlic Planting Guide, garlic should be planted between September 15 and November 30.  The optimal planting time is right after the first light frost.  I was a little late on that one…but hopefully it won’t matter in the end.  It hasn’t gotten that cold yet.

I ordered Georgian Crystal, Siberian, German Extra Hardy and Erik’s German White varieties.  If all goes as planned, I should end up with about fifty garlic bulbs next spring.

We dug trenches that were about 3-4″ deep and 6″ apart.  I kept the garlic by the parsnips, which I am also attempting to overwinter.

We broke up the individual cloves…

We planted the cloves about 6-8″ apart “pointy end” up…

Cover the bulbs with about 2″ of soil…

I put markers on my rows so I remember what I planted…

The directions state to mulch with about 6″ of straw, hay, grass clippings, etc.  We used leaves, since they are in abundance.  We did more than that, but it will settle over time.

Other garlic planting tips from Seed Savers Exchange:

**The cloves may begin to sprout through the mulch in 4-8 weeks, depending on variety and the weather.  Do not be concerned.  The plants will survive.

**Garlic will begin to emerge in early spring.  One or two foliar applications of fertilizer are a good idea before May 15.  Do not fertilize after May 15, as it may harm your garlic.

**Garlic needs about 1″ of water per week during the growing season (my thoughts are that this means..after all the snow is gone 🙂  If I’m wrong, please let me know!)  Stop watering after June 1, this allows for better bulb formation and ease of harvest.

**Keep your garlic weeded, especially early in the season.

**Scapes are the curly center steps that may form as garlic matures.  Cut or break them off after they are 10″ long – they will inhibit bulb growth if allowed to remain.  Garlic scapes can be eaten in soups and stir fries, roasted, pickled or turned into pesto.

**Harvest after leaf die back begins and there are still five green leaves remaining on the plant – sometime in June or early July depending upon the year and your climate.  Do not wait too long, or the bulbs will begin to separate in the ground.

**Dig the garlic carefully, do not pull the stalk or it will separate from the bulb.  Gently brush most of the dirt off – do not wash.  Be careful not to bang the garlic bulbs against each other or a hard object or they will bruise.  Remove from the sun immediately.

**Tie in a bundle of 6-10 and hang in a shaded, dry, well-ventilated shed or garage.  Leave hanging for 4-6 weeks.  After thoroughly drying, trim off the roots and cut the stalks off about 1 1/2″ above the bulb.  Store in net bags, old onion bags work well.  (I saved the nice green ones shown that came with my garlic bulbs for this purpose.)  For optimum storage, hang in an area with 45-55% humidity and a temperature of 50-70 degrees.  Do not refrigerate.

**At all stages handle your garlic carefully as IT IS ALIVE. 🙂  Bruise it and it will not store long.

**Hold back your nicest bulbs for replanting again in the fall.
Good luck!!!
This post was shared at Butter Believer’s Sunday School Blog Carnival; The Healthy Home Economist’s Monday Mania; The Better Mom’s Mondays Link Up; Real Food Forager’s Fat Tuesdays; Cooking Traditional Foods Traditional Tuesdays; Like a Mustard Seed’s Living Green Tuesdays; Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesdays; Frugally Sustainable’s Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways; The Nourishing Gourmet’s Pennywise Platter; GNOWFGLINS Simple Lives Thursdays; Real Food Freaks Freaky Friday; Too Many Jars in My Kitchen’s Fill Those Jars Friday; 21st Century Housewife’s Hearth and Soul Blog Hop; Fresh Eggs Daily Farm Girl Friday Blog Fest; The Liberated Kitchen’s GAPS Friendly Fridays; Food Renegade’s Fight Back Friday;


Book Review and a DIY Project: Homemade Lotion


I have become a DIY addict of sorts.  I kidded my husband that one of these days, I’ll be standing in Walmart looking at the toilet paper…telling myself…”yeah, I can make that…better!” Ok, well…maybe not yet…

I started out making my own hand soap, from Heavenly Homemakers, which we love.  Then I started making our laundry soap here, as well as our own dish soap and spray cleaner.  Last summer we started making our own lotion…and I just ordered stuff to make both bar soap and shampoo bars.  I am still a rookie at this stuff…and I have alot to learn…but we have a good start and I’m hooked.  My reasons for adding this to my already full plate:  1)  It’s fulfilling to be able to be more self sufficient.  2)  Fun activities with your kids.  3)  A non-toxic alternative in a very toxic world.  4) little/no plastic packaging or waste.  5).  Cost/frugality…and 6)  ….just because I can.

Ok, so back to the aforementioned lotion.  I got this GREAT book for my birthday: “Making It:  Radical Home Ec for a Post-Consumer World”  by my favorite “Urban Homestead” couple Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen.

I love this book.  They break down projects from “Day to Day”, “Week to Week”, “Month to Month”, etc.  The book covers everything from composting, beekeeping, gardening, making your own mead wine, and hygiene items like…well…lotion (and more)!

My daughter and I tackled the recipe for “Silky Cream” first.  She later entered it as a 4-H project in our county fair, and won a blue ribbon for it.  In fact, the judge was so impressed she told her that she was going to try it herself…

The ingredients that you will need:

6 oz olive oil (I used cheapy olive oil, even the book outlines that this is fine)

2 oz coconut oil (for personal use, I get my coconut oil here)

1 oz organic beeswax, chunks or pastilles (I initially got mine here, but was later lucky enough to find a beekeeper who sells beeswax – and that was a much better deal!)

10-20 drops essential oil (we used Aura Cacia’s Tranquility but you could use whatever you want)

1 c. tepid water (distilled, filtered or rainwater is best)

A clean dry jar, enough to hold 2 cups of cream.  I will add that using a wide mouth mason quart jar is a smart bet.  The small mouth ones…not such a smart bet.  Live and learn.

Measure and combine the oils and wax in a Pyrex liquid measuring cup.  Pour in the olive oil until you reach the 6 ounce line, then add the coconut oil until the oil level rises to the 8 ounce line.  Add the beeswax until the liquid reaches the 9 ounce level.  Then put the cup in a sauce pan of simmering water.

Heat the oil and wax over simmering water, stirring occasionally, until the wax is totally melted.  Take the pan off the heat and stir in the essential oils.  If you’re not going to start mixing right away, let the melted oils and wax sit in the water bath, off the heat, so it stays warm.  While the wax is melting, pour 2 cups or so of boiling water into a blender to prewarm it.  This will stop the wax from solidifying on the blender walls.  Measure out 1 cup of room temp water.  Be prepared for the next step as it happens quickly.

Empty the boiling water out of the blender or mixing bowl.  Pour in the hot oil.  Start the blender and pour in the water in a steady stream.  I took the top removable plastic handle out of the lid and poured the water in through there.

The oil will turn to cream right away.  Some water may not get mixed in and will make the blender “choke”.  Stop the blender, scrape down the sides, and start again.  Repeat until it is smooth and blended.  Stir around to make sure there’s no water hiding in the bottom of the blender.  Stop when it is smooth.  Store your cream in clean dry jars.  The authors note that if you see air pockets in the filled jars, stir to remove the pockets as the cream will keep better that way.  We have done two batches to date – one was very creamy and the other was more like a butter.  Who knows why they are different, but we have been happy with it either way.  I don’t believe I will go back to buying store bought lotion again.

I should add that this recipe was NOT labor intensive.  You can start the wax melting and walk away and do other things for a few minutes.  I’d say from start to finish, it took us 20 minutes and that whole time we were not standing at the stove or blender.

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This post was shared at Butter Believer’s Sunday School; The Healthy Home Economist’s Monday Mania; The Prairie Homestead’s Homestead Barn Hop; Real Food Forager’s Fat Tuesdays; Cooking Traditional Foods’ Traditional Tuesdays; Like a Mustard Seed’s Living Green Tuesdays; Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesdays; Frugally Sustainable’s Frugal Days Sustainable Ways; The Nourishing Gourmet’s Pennywise Platter; GNOWFGLINS Simple Lives Thursday; Real Food Freaks Freaky Friday; Food Renegade’s Fight Back Friday; Too Many Jars in My Kitchen’s Fill Those Jars Friday; The 21st Century Housewife’s Gallery of Favorites; Fresh Eggs Daily Farm Girl Blog Fest;