Garlic… what a great time of year.

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Well its beginning to look a bit like garlic….. everywhere you go.  There’s a bit of it out to dry…..

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a bit of it hanging highIMG_3383

But most of it still in the fields….(not sure what the rhyme pattern there was)IMG_3379IMG_3378

So last October we planted about 4000 garlic. We have been growing it for about 7 years now, expanding our numbers each year, and here we are.

I thought I would explain the life cycle of a garlic, as it is much more complex than you would think…. or simpler. Garlic clones itself.  Garlic, like potatoes, is multiplied by vegetative reproduction rather than by sexual reproduction (seeds). Individual garlic cloves are planted and they each produce a bulb in which the cloves all have the same genetic makeup as the original clove.

I cannot believe I have not photographed the umbrels before, so I found a picture online. This is the “flower” that the garlic plant sends up. It is called an umbrel and the tiny parts inside are called bulbils. They are essentially teensy garlic cloves.

umbrel early

umbrel

Usually you do not see the umbrel of the garlic plant because they usually get cut off earlier before the flower develops, which is what we did a few weeks ago to allow the plant to put all of its energy into make a large garlic bulb instead of bulbils.IMG_3352

THIS is called a scape, and the little pointed thing at the end of the scape develops into the umbrel shown above if left on the plant.  So here is my fridge filled with a few hundred scapes ready for the market tomorrow.  Scapes are an under appreciated part of the garlic plant that only those who shop at farmers markets ever find out about……….. OR if you have a friend (like me) who has an overabundance of scapes, because I have grown so many garlic.IMG_3385

I should add that Scapes are a delicacy that are a cross between an asparagus and a bean and a garlic. They last for weeks in the fridge and you can use them in almost any dish.  Another very unique thing about Garlic Scapes is  that they are not something you will find in warmer climates.Only Hardneck Garlic produces a scape! (FINALLY SOMETHING we can grow that they cannot grow in the tropics)   There are 2 main types of garlic. The type you will find in the stores ( that comes from China) is usually soft neck garlic. It tends to do better in warmer climates. It does not need the really cold winter that the HARDNECK garlic needs to divide into cloves.  Hardneck cultivars tend to have a more complex flavour profile than softnecked ones, being richer, spicier, and generally more ‘garlicky’. Hardneck cultivars also tend to have a larger average clove size, which, due to their plumpness, regular shape, and thicker skin, are easier to peel. SO if you have not already done so …. try hardneck garlic.

We do grow Softnecks,  (a small number of them ) they do not send out a scape, but instead send their bulbils out the side of the stem like shown here.IMG_3354

I am just now thinking what it must be like to be an elementary school teacher tasked with teaching the “facts of life”…….So much to tell ….. I shall continue this story, in a future blog……… growing garlic with bulbils…

So the other thing about garlic is that you can eat it fresh. It has great flavour and it is much easier to peel, but the only time of year you can eat if fresh is about now. Most of the process with garlic is to dry and cure it so it will last over the winter, so you can have garlic year round.  So right now you can buy garlic that has not been cured, tastes wonderful, its not something you would be able to keep until Christmas.  … but then why wait until christmas?

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So the garlic you will find at the markets now is called “fresh garlic” and the only difference between that and what you would find in the stores is that it is not something you will want to keep for months because it has not been cured.

So our first farmers Market of the year is tomorrow in Celista. Celista farmers Market. We will have raspberriesIMG_3356

SCAPES… fresh garlic, Dragons tongue bean seeds.

Next week we shall have black berries and heirloom tomatoes.  IT STARTS

Much Love to all, this IS our most recent obsession.

Janet

 

 

 

 

 

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