The Garlic Life (Cycle) and Braiding Garlic

Climate change is real, there is a significant anthropogenic contribution and the fall-out will be expansive.

In the face of climate change, humans will experience sky-rocketing food and energy prices, scarcity of food wiped out by super storms, deluge and drought, and damages magnified by economic inequality. In the face of these, I argue that people — especially marginalized people who historically face greater hardships from class and gender inequality — should learn to grow and preserve their own foods. It is a powerful practice of resiliency.

Coming from a mixed race woman of color in the United States, this post aims to empower other women, who have not been dealt the most favorable societal cards. Rely on your two hands! Foreshadow a future where you have cultivated the skills to feed yourself and your family in unstable markets without relying on a patriarch!

I also honestly hope that ANYONE who wants to grow and preserve their own food, who wants to build up their knowledge of good food and where it comes from, and those who wish to disconnect from the whims of market and power struggles, I honestly hope that you will enjoy this post and find it useful as well.

With that said, I present to you a familiar, yet wonderful, bulb that is not difficult to grow, does not require much space and can easily become a staple of a healthy diet even in the hard and unpredictable weather of the Northeast United States.

Create a good garlic life for yourselves! Eat garlic and prosper!…

In the Northeast, plant garlic in the fall, pick garlic scapes in the Spring, harvest garlic in the summer, and let it cure to enjoy its deliciousness and health benefits all year round!

In the Fall, plant garlic about 4-5 inches deep and about 5-6 inches apart in a rich compost, topsoil mix. Then throw mulch on top to deter weed growth, keep nutrients in the soil and to give the garlic a nice warm blanket to withstand the harsh winter months to come.

In the Spring, harvest the garlic scapes. Garlic scapes are the edible, lightly-garlicky- tasting “flower stalks” of the garlic plant. This is how the garlic develops its seeds. You want to pick these so that the plants’ concentration of energy is spent growing plumper bulbs, instead of competing with the flower stalk. Consensus on when to pick the scapes is to err on the side of early. And gourmet folks say the earlier the better. They’re more tender and crisp when younger. I also read that you should pick the scapes at the hottest time of the day so that the sap dries quicker. If the garlic plant bleeds out too much sap, it is apparently not good for the plant in the long run. One year, I picked the scapes too late and learned my lesson. The scapes were woody and inedible. And when it came harvest time for the garlic in the fall, the bulbs were puny. This year I picked them at just the right time:


In the summer, your garlic is ready to harvest when the leaves have started to turn yellow-brown and are drying out. When that happens, loosen the soil with a digging fork and pull the bulbs right up by the stem. Let them cure and THEN it’s time to braid them to enjoy their beauty and flavor year round!

Here’s how to braid garlic or onions or any allium with a bulb and leafy stalk:

1. Lay out all your garlic
2. Put the three biggest bulbs together and sort the rest of the bulbs into groups by size


3. Make an “X” with 2 of the 3 largest bulbs. Place the 3rd bulb on top in the middle. And tie them together with a rubberband or twine.
4. Now braid it just like you would French braid hair. One, Two, add a garlic bulb. One, two, add a garlic bulb. Keep doing this, using the larger bulbs first. If you have ever done a French Braid before, this will be easy for you… I have never actually done a French braid. I’ve never had a little sister to practice braiding on like my older sister did with me. Needless to say I was challenged at first.


5. When you have gone through all the garlic, just continue the braid normally with the stalks. Then secure it with something pretty at the top. (I’ve started to experiment and braid in pretty medicinal flowers, like yarrow, to dry and for aesthetic).
6. Then hang in your kitchen to continue curing. Just snip the bulbs off as you need then.


Here’s an extra tip: if the stalks are too dry and brittle to braid at first, wrap them in a damp cloth for 15 minutes to make them malleable.

Also, some people trim the roots, but I like how they look. It’s your prerogative.

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