Saturday, October 16, 2010

Garlic going down into the ground!

Not all 15,000 cloves are in the ground yet, but 4 more varieties were planted today, on an absolutely picture-perfect October day with blue skies, a light breeze, and the temperature getting up into the 60's. It was great day planting with two good friends, just chatting away and enjoying some delicious foods we all brought (dietitians know how to eat well while they also eat healthfully!).

Here is what we planted today: Romanian Red, Creole Red, Purple Italian (bummer, no photo and now they are all in the ground), and Silver Rose, beautiful names for beautiful garlic varieties.

(Photo: Creole Red Seed Garlic)
(Photo: Romanian Red Seed Garlic)
(Photo: Silver Rose Seed Garlic)
Next up tomorrow - the gorgeous and delicious and very popular Spanish Roja! It is a HUGE box of  big, beautiful cloves. I'll be sure to take a photo of the box of cloves plus the one bulb we have saved to show local chefs for consideration of future bulk ordering. We saved our biggest and best bulbs of all our varieties for our seed stock (a garlic seller's annual dilemma), so we'll have even more to sell next year, and if it is even possible, the heads we have to sell in 2011 will be even more beautiful than this year.

I enjoy planting each and every clove, wondering who will be purchasing the full bulb that each clove will grow into by July of next year. I give each clove a little pat for good luck before pushing it down into its home for the next 9 months before it is carefully dug up sometime in July. After all of the ~15,000 cloves are planted (hopefully we'll get this done during October), we'll spread about 8 inches of straw over the raised beds and then wait for the Michigan winter snows to cover them.

From harvest to harvest, garlic is a 12-month process, and for those of you (like us many years ago!) who first decided to plant garlic when those seed catalogs arrived in early January, that first garlic crop was an 18-month wait !! since the seed catalogs came too late to plant garlic for that year's harvest. From seed to cooking or seed to seed, there are multiple, multiple steps where our hands do something (including weeding, weeding, and more weeding!) to help nurture that garlic clove into a big beautiful delicious garlic bulb that is edible or plantable for you.

We are so excited to be into year 2 and already thinking about year 3, too, since we have already starting getting another field ready to condition with successive crops of green manure (buckwheat, winter rye, oats, peas, soybeans) so the 2012 harvest will also be beautiful and delicious for our customers. 

We'll know enough next year to know that we also need to set aside some garlic for us to use during the winter before we sell out, in addition to setting some garlic aside as gifts for special people and/or local fund-raisers. Our garlic's "popularity" caught us by surprise and thus we (the garlic family!) are now limited to the overlooked garlic that we are finding in our fields that is trying to sprout. So funny - I laugh each time I find one, thinking of us being the equivalent of "the cobblers whose children have no shoes". 

Lessons learned and learned well. Mistakes are only mistakes if you don't learn something from them! In fact, I believe that could even be the essential underlying meaning of the tag line for this blog: 

"Cultivate your life - you are what you grow - inch by inch, row by row"

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

1 comment:

Kateri said...

Ah, yes. There are always those few bulbs that get left behind. Lucky for you in this case! I'm still amazed that you sold out so quickly!
The garlic I got from you and planted the first week of September is all sprouting nicely and looks very healthy. I have to confess that right after I bought the garlic I had a blood test which showed a allergy to many vegetables, including all alliums, and a fairly severe allergy to garlic (can you believe that!?) I was so bummed. I never did taste any of the garlic I got from you. I ended up planting it all except for one bulb of each variety. I'm slowly adding foods back to my diet and hopefully in the next few weeks will add back garlic without any ill effects. It is a real pain to not be able to cook with garlic and onions!