Growing great garlic is no easy feat, but we are proud to say, this year, we have done it!
There is garlic coming in your Week 2 box (and Week 1 boxes for Wednesday/Thursday/Friday pick-up members), so you will get to see the hefty. fresh heads for yourself soon. They are turning out wonderfully, the fruits (as a matter of speaking) of a LOT of planning and regular care dating back to November!
Garlic is pretty tough to grow well because it’s on an opposite cycle, compared to most of our crops. We plant in late fall/early winter, which means it has to contend with bitter cold weather AND flood season.
Many farmers save a portion of their garlic harvest to use for seed the following season because garlic is a crop that is highly sensitive and adaptive to the intricacies of its growing climate. The benefits of planting out your own garlic seed are significant, but garlic seed’s finicky storage requirements for proper curing make seed-saving a difficult task to undertake. Because we don’t have the infrastructure to keep our garlic in primo condition from harvest in July until planting in December, we choose to invest in really good garlic seed and focus our time and labor efforts on caring for the crop as it grows.
We planted a half-acre of high-quality garlic seed last December, in between floods, and mulched it all with straw to keep it warm, again between floods.
There is a lot we can do to get the most out of our garlic crop, and the good news about garlic is that its crucial growing period happens when the rest of the farm production is just starting to gear up. We chose to put resources into feeding both the soil where the garlic was growing as well as weekly treating the foliage of the plants themselves (called foliar feeding) with nutrients during the two months when the leaves were emerging above ground and the heads were forming below. The healthier the plant, the bigger that grows and the stronger the plant is against disease and pests.
These intentionally scheduled feedings gave us a great crop this season! We are already onto selling our third product from it: the fresh garlic following the delicious scapes and the young, tender green garlic. Three products from one crop is a pretty good return on both our financial investment in the seed and our resource investment throughout its seven-month lifespan.
We hope you enjoy the garlic!
We’re capturing interesting moments this season and sharing them here to help you learn where your food comes from. Follow Story of a Season on our blog or on Instagram with #storyofaseason.
This story was originally published as part of our CSA newsletter, the Eater’s Digest. Interested in joining our CSA? Learn more about becoming a member.