Tag Archives: Garlic

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


farmersdotter organics promo

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


Don’t Ask. Don’t Tell.

You want to grow garlic and now is the time.

Russian Red

Yeah, you just know deep down inside that garlic is the crop to get into. You know it and there ain’t nothing to convince you otherwise. Except you’re not entirely sure how to start.

Premium Consumer Garlic

Premium Consumer Garlic

You think to yourself no problem, ask a pro. There are a few weeks yet to get the garlic game on.

[Googley-woggle-clickity-click-tap]… ‘How To Grow Garlic’. [clickity-click-tap]… Now, who is growing the best stuff out there? [Clickity-click-clickity-tap]… Hi, You have no idea who I am but I came across your article and… [clickety-click-tap]… I was wondering if you could tell me, a total but well deserving stranger, all your… [clickety-click]… secrets on growing garlic…[tap]?

That ought to do it. Worth a try. I mean all they can do is say no right. Bastards… [tap]… ‘Send’

Listen, growing garlic organically or any ground crop for that matter, is first and foremost about the soil. It is important to understand the structure and quality of your soil and to always, this is important, always improve the health of your soil. You do that in part by adopting a crop rotation plan. Mandatory. ‘Rotation for the Nation’. It’s important. Imagine the words ‘Rotation for the Nation’ on an equatorial banner hugging Mother Earth then apply that shit to a t-shirt. #DragonsDen

You’re welcome.

Here is our best advice. Rotate crops every four years. Not three. Not two. Four. If you desire one acre of any one crop you must strive to have a minimum of four acres with which to work. 

Four one acre panels in organic rotation

Four panels (mid-top) in organic rotation at farmersdotter

Regardless, online articles about organic growing methods are numerous and for the most part much better at explaining than anything I could impart in a response email sent to you in the middle of the high season.

Check out university extension websites like UBC Wiki. Even some Provincial government sites are awesome as resources. Make it a habit to check out peer reviewed papers.  

Take sites like the Old Farmers Almanac with a huge pinch of salt. Eliminate crap like Food Babe (can’t summon the courage to provide a link).

Get past the myriad of science denying tin-foil-hat wearing chem-trail-lookout crack head sites that begin with a top ten list of unicorn sightings and end with a mason jar kombucha recipe. RUN!

In short, do your research and don’t ask the professional. Don’t ask unless they are a Youtube professional. Then it’s all fun and fair game. Youtube pros. Whatever. 

Anyway, professionals have paid their dues so to speak and don’t tell their hard won secrets easily.

Drying Racks

Drying garlic on Racks

Farmland is expensive and we need young farmers and their families to take up the gauntlet. Yet while we want to support Young Agrarians and their like, there is a value associated with our time, effort and knowledge. We ask you to respect that and humbly suggest you simply begin with an earnest attempt to certify your property with an accredited organic certifying body like those of the COABC. Who, by the way, will forever be your best resource for support and methodology. 


The Best Ingredients Make The Chowder.

Folks are passionate about their chowder and most will tell you they have the best chowder recipe. Maybe they do, maybe they don’t. But you just know the best recipes begin with the best ingredients and farmersdotter has access to the best ingredients in the world. Beginning with shellfish from the Oyster Man. He is the authority on shellfish.

Unless you live on Oyster Man’s delivery route between Cortes Island and The Kootenays you are most likely unaware of him. We are fortunate to be able to buy these amazing fresh bivalves as he passes through the Similkameen Valley en route to Nelson .

Steaming Bowl of Lusty Goodness

Steaming Bowl of Lusty Goodness

Mussels, Clams, and Oysters, nurtured in the chilly waters off the coast of British Columbia. These guys are arguably the finest shellfish available anywhere.

We always buy enough seafood to have a feast the first night knowing the leftovers will become chowder. See our preparation for steamed mussels to get you started. This works well for clams or a combination.

Most every ingredient in farmersdotter chowder recipe is certified organic and sourced from our farming friends and neighbours of Cawston. Only the best.

After feasting on five pounds each mussel and clam and usually a couple dozen fresh shucked oysters, the leftovers are ample enough to yield a couple dozen bowls of chowder.

 

Heirloom Carrots from Honest Food Farm

Heirloom Carrots-Honest Food Farm

Begin by sauteing onions, shallots, and garlic in olive oil and butter on medium-low heat in a very large pot. Like a very large pot.

Throw in celery and carrots. Look at these amazing heirloom carrots we use from Honest Food Farm. If those colours don’t scream clean prostate nothing does. Continue to saute until vegetables are at least fully translucent if not slightly browned.

Next add the broth from the last night’s feast which consisted of sauteed onion and garlic in butter and olive oil with vermouth and white wine then topped with fresh lemon, parsley, shallot and plum tomato.

Now is when you can own this recipe and add any quality ingredient you want. Clean out the fridge. Add some nice heritage fingerling potatoes chopped into cubes for a great bite. To add more umami toss in mounds of sauteed mushroom and a dollop of tomato paste. Go bananas.

Continue to simmer then prior to service add cream. Yes, cream. Certified organic heavy cream. 36% with no fillers or stabilizers. Anything less is not cream, it is a stabilized carrageenan filled wanna be. Check for salt and pepper then serve with an astounding bread and you will have your very own, not to be duplicated best chowder ever.

So search out food producers in your neighbourhood. Get to know them and before you go grab a bottle of wine to share. Grab two. Your best recipes start here.

From the shameless promotion department, we recommend The Oyster Man’s tinned smoked oysters ordered online. They are fabulous. Worth every damn penny.

Om's Lusty Smoked Oysters

Om’s Lusty Smoked Oysters


Organic Pooh-Pooher

Certified organic pooh-pooher’s are like glow-sticks; they illuminate once vigorously shaken. If you are an organic pooh-pooher get ready for the light.

We have accounted for our harvest this season and yielded 4.4 pounds on 3,320 pounds of seed for a total harvest of 14,616 pounds of Russian red garlic, the only variety we grow. This is a ratio that we have realized for a few years now and one we believe to be at the top end for the variety we grow.

We break down our harvest into five categories:

1- Number one garlic which is the premium quality garlic sold to consumers.

Premium Consumer Garlic

Premium Consumer Garlic

2- Number two garlic which is lesser quality in appearance than number one yet has the exact same characteristics where it counts; taste and keeping quality.

3: Seed garlic which is the very best garlic. Chosen for size and symmetry these bulbs are retained for our seed bank to be broken apart to be replanted as seed (individual cloves) each fall.

Seed Garlic

Seed Garlic

4: Time Savour garlic which are the individual cloves from the seed garlic that once revealed show themselves to be not suitable candidates for planting. Either because the cloves have too small of a basal plate to develop good roots or two or more cloves are fused together and would produce only number two garlic at best. The Time Savour cloves are sold in bulk primarily to chefs. Again the culinary characteristics are superb and they store as well as whole bulbs.

5: Waste garlic which, as the name suggests is garlic deemed not suitable for consumption. Mostly due to mechanical damage from the harvesting process and some due to pathogens.

Waste Garlic

Waste Garlic

But here is where organics shines… heh

Of the 14,616 pounds harvested only 120 pounds fell into the waste garlic category. That is a mere .82% of the total yield. Number two garlic came in at 1.12% or 164 pounds. This means we were less than 2% away from perfection and all on about one acre of land which is 17% to 33% better than conventional garlic farming where only 10,000 to 12,000 pound per acre is harvested. This is something we attribute 100% to organic practices.

So to the pooh-poohers who say organics can not feed the world; who insist organics can not achieve high yields.

Back at you.

 


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