Tag Archives: Garlic

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.

 


Right. Time to plant.

So you have selected your garlic seed. Good for you. Time to plant.

For a primer read the previous post on seed selection. Or not.

Its up to you.

Don’t care. I’m in a mood.

We are at the end of a hot and especially dry season. And right now, right at the moment I complete cracking 4000 pounds of garlic bulbs and separate them into little cloves that will forever haunt my dreams I am obliged to acknowledge my sore wrists, my garlic-chaff filled lungs and the fact that autumn has arrived in earnest.

I am not ready for autumn.

I’m still coping with the faint memory of last spring slipping into this summer which is now gone. No more.

Don’t care.

Right. Time to plant.

Regardless of the amount of garlic to be planted it is best, especially in moist and temperate climates, to plant garlic in a purpose built raised bed. On a larger scale a raised-bed former is used.

Hippy Disc 1

Hippy Inspired Raised Bed Former

Hippy Disc 2

Hippy Inspired Raised Bed Former the Latter

We employ a hippy-inspired, home-made, spot-welded, disc-thingy-bed-former that attaches somewhat securely to our #HangInThereI-Think-I-CanGuardProtectorRemovedRotovator. #WorkSafe.

Ultimately your desire a loamy and uniform raised bed to accept seed.

We use a six inch spacing. In a bed three feet wide we plant six across and advance by six inches.

Six Inch Spacing

Six Inch Spacing

Plant to a depth where the top of the clove is two to four inches beneath the surface of the soil. Plant too shallow and you run the risk frost will heave the clove out of the winter ground. Mulching with straw will help prevent this from happening.

When planting by hand, as we do, it is difficult to plant too deep and four inches is an easy depth to achieve. This should result in a nice size bulb that is also easy to extract come harvest time.

 


Seed Selection 101

It is about this time of the year we prepare for next year’s harvest. We begin with selecting seed for planting next month from the racks of cured garlic harvested in July.

Plant next month you say?!

Hung Garlic

Harvested garlic curing on hanging racks

Yes, we plant garlic comparatively early. Growers in our region typically plant around the first freeze in mid October.

We did that once. Won’t do it again.

The first time we planted garlic was on one such mid October morning when the old bat assisting us, and I’m being kind there, mentioned that if you wait until after nine in the morning the sun will have risen enough above the hills to the east.

“Enough for what?” I asked.

As the mid-morning frost reluctantly steamed its’ way out of the frigid freshly-rotovated planting rows she poked her stubbly little wing into the soil and blankly remarked “enough to prevent frost bite.”

F*ck that we thought.

Then we remembered a story told to us from a friend who has a friend who has a client whose friend knows this garlic grower who lives up on Upper Bench Road not far from the Fairview Road right there by the Blind Creek Vineyard who plants garlic insanely early and their garlic is like some of the best garlic ever but nobody knows about it cause they only grow it for themselves and don’t share it except for that one time years back before salmon left the river they shared like a bulb or two with my friend’s friend’s client’s friend because he or she fixed the hydraulics on the garlic dudes old Massey although it could have been the Kubota but them things run like a deer so it must have been the Massey. Ya. The Massey.

Solid.

farmersdotter was inspired. She researched and armed herself with enough early garlic planting information to drive a spike through the old Chiropteran autumnal methodology and we’ve never looked back.

I digress.

So, selecting seed. We select premium specimens from the drying racks…

Premium Seed Garlic

Premium Seed Garlic with Healthy Round Basal Plate

then place them in totes …

Whole seed garlic stored in totes

Whole seed garlic stored in totes

where they wait to be processed by hand into individual seed or more commonly cloves.

Cracking garlic into seed began a couple of days ago. We will set the seed in the ground September 21. So all in all it takes a little over a month to process all the seed we will need. We see no harm nor degradation to seed that has been cracked and well stored for that amount of time prior to planting.

We select 4000 pounds of premium whole bulb garlic for our seed bank. Cracking each bulb by hand is labour intensive but it allows for a quick inspection of each clove for seed suitability.

Suitable Seed

Suitable Seed

Suitable seeds are large cloves with a good-sized basal plate (neural tube) that will generate a healthy volume of roots. They are firm and wrapped with a smooth healthy layer of paper. They should exhibit a desirable symmetry.

However, not all cloves in any one bulb may be suitable as seed. Some cloves are too small with an insignificant basal plate that will develop a week root system. Some will be ‘doubles’ with two or more cloves that can not be cleanly separated and if planted would run a high risk of producing an inferior bulb with two or more ‘scapes‘. Some cloves may simply appear unhealthy. These will usually have a mottled or wrinkled paper covering and an inferior basal plate.

Poor Quality Seed

Left-Too small. Middle-Inseparable double. Right-Wrinkled

Save these for the kitchen.

We separate garlic bulbs into seed by cracking. A method effective with well cured garlic. Simply tap the hard scape core down onto a hard surface. This force will crack or pop the root basal plate releasing each clove. Simply strip away excess paper and discard the hard scape core.

By the time the last bulb is cracked and we have accounted for the unsuitable seed we will have about 3400 pounds of select seed to plant into the warm soil of the equinox.

Cracked Garlic Seed

Cracked Garlic Seed


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