The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Garlic curing racks

Garlic curing racks

Curing butternutsMark estimates that our new garlic curing racks might save us about a week of labor over the course of the next fifty years.  I figure he's not far off.

In previous seasons, I've spent a lot of time hunting around in search of an area to cure garlic, onions, sweet potatoes, and butternuts.  I generally rig something out of old screens my mom found by the side of the road, in which case the trouble is ensuring the vegetables don't get rained on.

Newly harvested garlic

Climbing ladder with garlicThe drying racks our helper built for us in the solar tower take all of the hunting and setup out of vegetable curing.  The hardware cloth bases are strong enough to hold quite a few heads of garlic, while still allowing for plenty of air circulation, and the roof keeps out the rain.  (We very rarely have blowing rain --- if you do, you might need to extend the roof.)

The only thing that didn't quite work as planned is the two by four rungs that I planned to climb up to put the vegetables in place.  It was much easier to simply lean a ladder against the side of the trailer and go up that way, which felt much less precarious when I had an armload of garlic.

Putting away garlic

I'm not yet sure whether we'll have enough surface area for all of our crops, though.  The garlic filled all six racks up to the brim, and I might need to cure onions before the garlic is ready to go into bags.  We'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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I see that you guys have just as much garlic as we do! We grew a variety called Cherokee red, and it was very prolific. Your drying rack is cool! We've got some bread trays from a bakery to dry our garlic. They seem to work pretty good, of course finding a spot for them is the key...

Best wishes,


Comment by Fri Jun 8 13:10:12 2012
What garlic are you growing?
Comment by Heath Fri Jun 8 14:09:19 2012
Can you tie/braid the garlic and finish drying it from the rafters of the barn?
Comment by Mona Fri Jun 8 14:11:45 2012
I might be wrong about this, but I thought your barn used to be for tobacco drying? I had always assumed that once a new roof was on that you guys would use part of that space for curing vegetation and drying herbs, etc. With all the straw in there, is there no room? Or is there some other reason I'm not grasping?
Comment by Brandy Fri Jun 8 16:03:28 2012 --- We actually grew less this year because we had to give away a bunch of garlic last year. It's just so easy to grow that it's hard not to go overboard....

I've enjoyed seeing peoples' bread tray drying racks. No bakeries closeby, or I'd try to snag some!

Heath --- We grow Music (hardneck), Silverwhite Silverskin (softneck), and Italian Softneck (softneck, obviously). Music produces the most, biggest heads, but I've read hardneck garlic doesn't last as long, so we eat it first. The Silverwhite Silverskin keeps forever, and the Italian Softneck is midway between the other two in terms of keeping quality and bulb size.

Mona --- We could definitely tie the garlic up, but my goal is to handle curing vegetables as few times as possible, thus the racks. We tied garlic last year, and it dried quite well, but also go in the way of the tools in the only roofed area we had at the time. Tying also takes a lot longer than laying vegetables out on racks to cure, which is why I'm trying to move away from that method.

Brandy --- We've got to organize the barn before it's usable for anything, unfortunately. We've been slowly but surely plugging away at it, but don't have a clear area for drying racks yet.

Comment by anna Fri Jun 8 16:33:06 2012

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