We are really close to having all of the garlic in the ground for the 2013 harvest - yea! All that is left to do is treat some of the diseased garlic we separated out from our precious seed stock (arghhhh) and plant it in a separate part of the field to see what will happen next year. If it is healthy and thus edible, we will eat it ourselves and not sell or plant it again.
We are grateful to know that our crop failures this year were only partially due to our own management and mostly due to the perfect storm of weather conditions starting last fall that created the optimal growing conditions for a full-blown infection from a common soil fungus that hit garlic growers across the country causing significant crop losses. Some of our varieties had a 40% loss in the field and even some of our perfect seed stock (the best of the best) showed signs of the infection when we started to tear them apart to plant with about a 10% loss overall. Some of that is what we will experiment with and only use for our own family garlic.
Of course, best organic practices include rotating fields, which we have done and which we will continue to do on a 5-year schedule, but because it is weather conditions that are the baseline culprit, we will be even more attentive at all phases of the growing season next year to minimize the infection's cultivation and spread and resulting financial loss.
We have lots of winter projects that need our attention, so we will be switching gears next week to those.
In the meantime, I want to give you a repeat recipe because it is so easy and so delicious. It is for a Cranberry Chutney that I am just crazy about. The original recipe came from The Farmer's Diner in Quechee, Vermont, and of course I have made a few tweaks. Here it is:
3 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
1 cup orange juice
3 heaping tablespoons of honey (more to taste if desired at the end)
1/2 teaspoon powdered cinnamon
1-2 small sprigs of fresh rosemary
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh mint (I used orange-ginger mint, still growing in our herb garden)
Combine all in a heavy pot and bring to boil. When the berries have burst, take it all off the heat and submerge the pan in an ice bath in the sink to cool. This recipe freezes well and can be used in all sorts of imaginative ways to spice up and dress up other dishes.
Last, a poem by Robert Frost along with the last lines of a poem by Mary Oliver seem perfect for this time of year, giving thanks for the abundance we have in our lives.
Unharvested (Robert Frost)
A scent of ripeness from over a wall.
And come to leave the routine road
And look for what had made me stall,
There sure enough was an apple tree
That had eased itself of its summer load,
And of all but its trivial foliage free,
Now breathed as light as a lady's fan.
For there had been an apple fall
As complete as the apple had given man.
The ground was one circle of solid red.
May something go always unharvested!
May much stay out of our stated plan,
Apples or something forgotten and left,
So smelling their sweetness would be no theft.
Beans Green and Yellow (Mary Oliver)
as though it were an ordinary thing,
we eat the blessed earth.
Happy Thanksgiving to you all. I'll be back more often in December, I promise!
Cultivate your life - you are what you grow - inch by inch, row by row,
Diana Dyer, MS, RD