Garlic is harvested! It only took us two days with the help of reliable and quick workers Greg and Alex. Our volumes for sale this year will be small because we will be replanting most of the harvest, but what we pulled out looks really, really good. But the even more exciting news is that our new garlic drying plenum is up and running! In 2011 we lost 99% of our crop due to excess moisture during the curing process. This year we are taking no chances. With the help of a grant from the State of Maine’s Farms for the Future program, Dave designed and built a 240-volt low wattage, double fan, push pull positive pressure drying plenum. That’s right: A 240 volt low wattage, double fan, push pull positive pressure plenum. Now say that three times, quickly!
We clip the garlic stalks and lay the bulbs in single layers in large bins made with 1x2s and hardware cloth, and stack the bins within the plenum. The plenum is sealed with Typar and construction tape, we turn the fans on, balance the pressure with the help of a manometer (manometer not necessary as it turns out, but it makes the thing look more scientific) and, voila! A simple, relatively low cost, compact, low energy drying system.
We checked the charge controller on our off-grid solar system after we plugged in the plenum, and the energy used was only 300 watts! If the fans are turned up to maximum, the usage would be about 450 watts. Perfect for the off-grid garlic grower, or any farmer with similar needs. Click on the pics below for larger images with descriptions.