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Things We Get Asked About: Growing Garlic

Here are the top five questions we get asked about growing garlic.

1/ Which variety do you grow?

Russian Red.

Seed Garlic
Seed Garlic

True identification is virtually impossible as there are hundreds of cultivars with no universally accepted horticultural mapping.

Suffice it to say there is hard-neck garlic which produces a flower stalk or scape, and soft-neck garlic which does not.

Hard-neck garlic is generally accepted to include rocambole and purple stripe garlic. Russian Red is a rocambole producing four to eight cloves per bulb and in our humble opinion produces the best flavour and long term storage qualities.

Soft-neck varieties include artichoke, silverskin, and Creole which are most often found in the supermarkets and originate from China, California, and other places of exotic and murky reputations. #WentThere #NoGoingBack

2/ How deep do you plant?

We like to have about 5 to 7 centimeters of soil above the top of the clove when we plant.

Sixteen Centimetre Spacing
Sixteen Centimetre Spacing

We mulch with certified organic alfalfa straw which mitigates frost heaves and more importantly helps retain precious spring and summer irrigation. We’re told it also helps reduce weeds. On the weed issue, we’re undecided because considering the effort we exert extracting weeds each season, we wonder what horrors would appear if we decided to ixnay the ulchmay. #Shudder #WeBeFarming #Heroic

3/ How far apart do you plant.

Sixteen centimeters. One octave. Or thereabouts.

4/ When do you plant/harvest?

We plant on the third Monday of September. Maybe a little early, however planting this early helps establish root development and the sooner we’re done the better.

We harvest on the third Monday of July come rain or shine because it’s time to get it out of the ground and into the stores. #CashFlow

5/ Scapes? What are they?

A garlic scape is simply the flower stem. It appears early June and we remove the scape by snapping the little bugger between our fingers as soon as, or a little before, it completes one curl.

Removing Scapes
Removing Scapes

The idea is to divert the energy back down into the bulb producing a larger and more robust product for your table and our bank account.

We retain the scape to produce our Original Garlic Scape Salt. Yes, it is original. It was invented by farmersdotter back in another time when forest fires were a thing of awe and mystery and washing was done by hand. #FrontierLife

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Things We Get Asked About: Wood-Fired Oven Bakery

Considering the variety of stuff that is produced from the bakery wood-fired oven; sough dough bread, pizzas, pastries, complete meals for not-so-long table gatherings, and the Original Garlic Scape Salt, we get asked a variety of questions about it. So here are answers to the top four most often asked questions about our wood-fired oven bakery.

1/ Did you build the oven?

No. As far as we can tell the oven was installed around 2007 as part of a wood-fired brick bake oven workshop led by renowned oven master Alan Scott.


To our knowledge, the oven is one of two commercial ovens of this size in North America to be installed personally by Mr. Scott.

2/ How big is the oven?

Big. The biggest Alan Scott oven design out there. Measuring approximately six by eight feet (50ish square feet or about 4.5 square metres) the oven chamber is about as large a wood-fired oven can be and still be practical.


The oven can accommodate over 70 x 700-gram loaves when you know how to load it.

3/ How do you load the oven?

With a peel and aplomb. The peel (resembling a long, exaggerated paddle) is large enough to accommodate four loaves and long enough, ten feet give or take, to reach the back of the oven.


Farmersdotter first sprinkles cornmeal on the peel which allows the bread to roll off easier. Then three or four loaves of bread are placed onto the peel, scored with a lame, then with a precise thrust the loaves are positioned in the oven rank and file like crusty soldiers. Rinse and repeat twenty or so times until the oven is full of wonderful naturally fermented bread.

4/ How do you build the fire for the oven?

The oven chamber ostensibly is the fireplace.


For each firing, we use approximately one-quarter (30ish cubic feet) of a cord of wood to get the oven to temperature. Once the fuel has been exhausted the coals and ash are raked out and deposited into an enclosed ash pit directly below the chimney. The oven then is swept a few times with a homemade wet mop to clean the brick floor in order to accept the bread.


As a pizza oven, we retain some coals in the chamber which develops an ideal pizza crust.




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When is the Right Time for Renewables?

If like me, you are a product of the fifties then you are also a Boomer and may have witnessed some notable events like the introduction of the Canadian Bill of Rights, the Avro Arrow briefly taking to the skies and Terry Fox bravely hitting the pavement, Expo 67 and our centenary.

It was a period when we all felt empowered by the effectiveness of civil disobedience.  We carried the fervour of anti-Vietnam War protests to our own backyard against the Amchitka Nuclear Tests.

Defining moments in our recent history.

Back then the overreaching concerns, two global issues that touched us all were the very real and terrifying concept of the Population Explosion and the sense of urgency to do something proactive about the evident decline of the stewardship towards our shared environment.

Green Peace Arctic Sunrise
Green Peace Arctic Sunrise

Why should any of this matter?

It matters because these issues haven’t gone away and their persistence is a kind of a report card on the Boomer’s success as resource managers of this planet.

If for example, we were as successful at understanding the fundamentals of exponential growth as we are at manipulating compound interest we would not be faced with the current dilemma of how seven billion humans can effectively share and manage the resources of the planet.

If we were as successful at managing our planet’s flora, fauna, and natural resources as we are at exploiting them then Green Peace frankly, would no longer exist.

So why did it take until now, when we can better estimate the finite inventory of precious fossil fuels remaining underground, to consider renewable energy as an affordable and viable alternative?

Compared to solar, wind, and tidal energy production, the oil & gas companies don’t put the effort into intensive mining, drilling, extracting, processing, transporting, and distributing fossil fuels because it is the path of least resistance. They do so because of profit. Greed at the expense of doing what is right. Besides, if labour is cheap enough does it really matter the amount of effort? Take the Great Pyramid or the Great Wall for example.

Curious that solar, wind and tidal exploration does not require exploratory leases to identify profitable patches of sunlight, strong breeze or coastline. Curious too that solar photovoltaic energy panels can harvest sunlight with no moving parts that require lubricating.

Solar Array at Farmersdotter Organics
Solar Array at Farmersdotter Organics

Question is, do we leave the remaining inventory of fossil fuel in the ground to be managed and admired like the  Giant Panda in the wild or like the Northern White Rhino, do we hunt it to the brink of extinction? Because let’s face it, fossil fuel supply is finite so it is not a question of if we adopt renewable energy but simply a matter of when.

Well, the time is ripe. Renewable energies are inevitable, affordable and simply the right thing to do. I just turned sixty and know there is never a wrong time to do the right thing.

Failing Grade
Failing Grade

Unfortunately, the best any Boomer can take home from all this is a grade of C- for resource management and an F for effort.  But my grade school teacher would note there is always room for improvement.

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You can’t call it a Verger.

Why do some vegan food recipes emulate carnivore recipes?

Where's the Beef? Photo curtesy Living Non GMO
Where’s the Beef? Photo courtesy Living Non GMO

The sandwich in the above photo contains no meat, no juices, no glistening gristle, so do not disguise it as a hamburger. Fraud. Call it what it is; a lamb sandwich, the ‘m’ is silent. And for Pete’s sake lose the traditional burger bun. That’s ours too. Use bread. Any bread. A special bread specific for your la’m’b sandwich but, you can not call it a Verger. That’s too close and too low effort. Vegans the world over have made a choice and consequently must own it! If you’re going down the vegan road leave off the analogies and stop co-opting names like burgers, hot dogs, et al because those names all belong to us. Those names belong to the domain of the carnivore. Your domain is over there somewhere. Afterall, we don’t cut top sirloin into a perfect rectangle, coat it with high gluten flour and call it tofu. #OwnIt

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farmersdotter organics promo

farmersdotter organics promotional video produced by the good and talented folks at ET2media