Rick Long is a serious, long-time gardener in Wisconsin. Last year he started experimenting with Minibed gardening. This year he harvested 156 garlic bulbs from his Minibeds. I posted photos of Rick's 2018 Minibed garden earlier this year (CLICK HERE to see it).
As you may already know, garlic bulbs need to be cured, or dried down, for a period of time after harvest. This is often done by tying bunches of bulbs together and hanging them in a dry location with good air flow. That's the way I typically cure my garlic harvest these days.
But tying a lot of garlic in bunches can be a lot of work, and air flow around the bunches is not ideal. With that in mind, Rick developed a remarkably nice drying rack. He calls it a "Garlic & Onion Tree." I think it should be called "Rick Long's Garlic & Onion Tree." That's it in the photo at the top of this post. Here's a photo Rick's garlic curing tree before it was loaded with garlic...
I know a brilliant, down-to-earth idea when I see it, and Rick Long's Garlic & Onion Tree is such an idea. I dare say it's a whizbang idea, which means it is "conspicuous for speed, excellence, and startling effect." You can bet I'll be making one! Here are some details from an e-mail that Rick sent me...
"Attached you will find a photo of my “Garlic/Onion Tree” before I installed it and a photo of it in use. The cross pieces are only 18” long because I had some scrap 2 X 4’s laying around that I cut them out of. If I make another one, I’ll cut the cross pieces at least 24” to maybe 30” long. It will hold more that way. The current “tree” will hold approximately 108 garlic bulbs, or onions for curing."I asked Rick if I could share his curing rack idea here. He graciously agreed, and provided some further construction details...
"The Garlic/Onion Tree is really simple. It’s just a 2” X 2” (a 2 x 4 ripped in half) and the cross pieces. I cut the cross pieces out of some scrap 2 X 4’s ripped 1/2” wide. I got five pieces out of each 2 X 4. Then I cut them to 7/8” wide. I thought 1 1/2” (the 2 X 4 thickness) was too wide and 3/4” was too narrow, but I don’t think it makes a big difference. One construction screw holds each cross piece in place. That way if you want to store it after curing your onions and garlic it partially folds up, making it somewhat smaller.
I mounted mine semi-permanently between two posts in my pole shed. I think with a 1 X 6 mounted on each end, opposite the cross pieces it could be stabilized so it wouldn’t twist, or roll over, on a pair of saw horses for a temporary curing tree/rack.
Yes, go ahead and share it with others. I have not seen anything like it on the Internet, but it doesn’t seem possible that someone else hasn’t thought of it either."
There isn't a doubt in my mind that a lot of gardeners out there will love this idea and want to make one of these drying/curing racks. This is an idea that should go viral. With that in mind, please share this blog post with your social network. All I ask is that you give credit where credit is due, and call it Rick Long's Garlic Curing Tree.
Some people may wonder if hanging garlic bulb-end-up is a "right" way to cure the bulbs. I don't think that's anything to be concerned about. Here's why...
Years ago I grew a LOT of garlic and made This Drying/Curing Contraption. In order to dry down such a large number of bulbs, I cut the tops off at harvest, and in some of the trays I arranged the bulbs upside down. I saw no end-result difference between bulbs cured that way, and those that were cured in bunches with the bulbs hanging down.
The most important thing with harvesting garlic is to dig the bulbs before they die down too far (Rick's bulbs in the photos above were harvested at just the right time), and to get them right into a drying/curing situation of some sort.
And finally, if you have not yet seen my Planet Whizbang garlic growing and garlic-powder-making resources, please Click Here.