Thursday, January 10, 2013

Sneak Peek: Garlic!

Mary Pat, Claire and Amy planted garlic early in November.
Although we are months from planting most of our CSA crops, one crop is already in the ground -- garlic! Garlic is unusual in that it's planted in the fall. The garlic scapes will come up in early summer, likely within the first few weeks of the season (mid June is typical). We will pull the bulbs around the end of July or early August, but we will to wait for the tops to start to die off before we distribute them. (Unlike onions, we won't wait for the tops to completely die back.)

If you haven't had garlic scapes before, they are delicious! Garlic scape pesto is probably the most popular use for garlic -- there are quite a few good scape recipes floating around on the internet. You may want to bookmark a few possibilities for spring! Another alternative is to boil the scapes for just a couple minutes then sautee them as you would asparagus. They are quite tasty like that too.

Some interesting tidbits about garlic:

We planted under plastic
to control weeds.

~ Although they are planted the previous season, they are one of the lowest-maintence vegetables. Deer don't eat them, there are very few diseases to which they are susceptible, and they actually benefit many other plants by repelling harmful insects. The biggest concern for a large-scale grower is keeping weeds at bay, because garlic that has been crowded by weeds will not grow as large. That's why we plant ours under plastic mulch!

~ Garlic is a super food that supports digestive health, heart health, and boosts the immune system all at the same time.

~ Although it is common to see minced garlic packed in oil at the grocery store, that is not a safe way to store garlic at home. The oil provides an ideal growing environment for contaminants like botulism.

- Garlic is best stored with the bulb intact, in a cool and dry place with little sunlight. Claire, our chief grower, puts her garlic in large brown-paper bags and store them through the winter in her downstairs laundry room.

~ The variety that we've planted at the farm are all hard-neck varieties. The benefits to hard-necks are that they make scapes (so it's like getting 2 crops from one plant), They also typically have a better flavor and aroma. The only down side to hard neck varieties is that they generally have a reduced storage life compared to soft-neck varieties. Properly stored, they should be good until December or so.

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