This winter we have finally invested some time delving into Quickbooks. We bought the program in February 2015 and had an intensive and helpful how-to session with a truly patient woman, Diane, in March. Despite our best intentions we didn’t touch the program again until about three weeks ago, in late December, as we started to try and untangle the farm’s finances.
But now that we’ve done so, my fear of the program is gone and the benefits are clear. Among many other fascinating and mundane details impossible to truly appreciate as you’re hurtling from place to place around the farm all season, Nick and I have realized how important garlic is to our business. For a small and highly diversified vegetable and flower farm, we devote a fair amount of space, time and energy to this one crop, and last year 14% of our income came from garlic alone.
Garlic necessitates bursts of concentrated energy. Planting in the fall and winter is a steady clove-by-clove march to finish one bed after another. Each year we’ve put more in the ground, and this year we planted 20 beds.
Then comes mulching the whole lot with straw to keep down weeds, retain moisture, and not least add organic matter to our already-fertile Nooksack soil.
Depending on the seed load of the straw we sometimes do a cursory weeding once in the spring, although we skipped it last year.
Summer rolls around and we use the tractor to lift the heads of garlic out of the ground, tie them into bundles and finally hang all of it to dry and cure.
At a certain point in the summer and early fall we begin to sort our garlic, putting aside particularly desirable heads to use for seed once again in the coming cooler months.
The cyclical nature of all this blurs the boundaries between each year and can really make you question the validity of a Gregorian calendar in the first place. Generally speaking, we are fine with that. But for less romantic purposes such as “budgeting” and “taxes,” that’s where Quickbooks can come in, helping divvy up the harvests and bursts of effort so that we actually know where we stand – which is up to our ears in garlic.