Friends Drift Inn Farm – What We Grow
“No one is indifferent to garlic. People either love it or hate it, and most good cooks seem to belong in the first group.” Faye Levy, noted cookbook author and former columnist for Bon Appetit.
We Grow Garlic That Chefs Love!
Prized by the Egyptians, cherished by chefs and eschewed by vampires garlic is an essential pantry ingredient for professional chefs and home cooks alike. The word garlic is derived from the Anglo Saxon term “garleac” which roughly translates to “spear leek.” Affectionately referred to as “The Stinky Rose” garlic is a relative of chives, onions, and scallions.
How We Grow Garlic
In November of 2015, Friends Drift Inn farm planted our first crop of garlic for the farmers market and restaurant trade plus extra “seed” start for the fall of 2016 planting. Garlic takes 6 to 8 months to mature, and is overwintered in our fields. Our initial stock came from another farm here in Kentucky who subscribes to sustainable agricultural practices.
Mom and I spent hours breaking the bulbs apart into single cloves, leaving the papery covering intact as much as possible. Charlie tilled about a 150 foot raised bed for planting. Garlic, like onions, is part of the allium family. What that means to small farmers, is you plant while sitting and crawling. I scooted around so much I got dirt in my iPhone which was in my back Levi’s pocket! Charlie was not pleased.
Garlic is planted by the single clove, with the root end down. We jabbed the cloves in the soil about 3 inches deep, about 4 inches apart in a bed about 36” wide.
Jab in and pat covering with soil. Jab and pat. Jab and pat. When you are planting 40 pounds of garlic you jab and pat a lot! It took Mom and me about 2 hours to get the garlic situated in the raised bed. We watered in. I dumped some leaves on top but it was not near enough. Charlie covered the babies with straw about 6” deep as a mulch. Think of mulch like a blanket, it protects the garlic from the ravages of winter’s wrath.
With the unseasonably warm weather, some of the garlic began to sprout. In a few places the deer decided they wanted to eat, scraping the mulch aside. To coax up a good crop we added more straw where needed. We hope the deer were just eating straw, but only spring will tell the tale.
Our soft neck variety of garlic should produce 60 – 100 pounds for every 10 pounds planted. For every 10 pounds of hard neck garlic, we expect to harvest 40 – 60 pounds of product. If all grows as planned, come June we are going to reek! Giggles
Planted in late fall here in USDA Zone 6b, Kentucky Appalachia, garlic will remain in the ground nearly 8 months. After harvest, it takes another 2-3 weeks to cure and dry garlic. Some will be sold, some will be saved for the following year’s planting. We are several varieties to trial. If garlic grows and sells well, look for additional selections at Friends Drift Inn Farm farmers market stand in 2017.
Garlic Varieties for 2016 Season
Red Toch is a soft neck artichoke variety, suitable for braiding. Most bulbs are layered, averaging 6 – 18 cloves. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, this variety was brought to America from south Russia near the Black and Caspian Seas by Peter Hanelt. Red Toch is mild. Favored for raw eating in salad dressings, pesto, and butter spreads this is a “go to” during summer grilling season. Roasted whole, Red Toch pairs well with olive oil, cream and butter.
Music is a hard neck porcelain variety, having a very woody stem. Bulbs are smaller and average 6 cloves. One of the most widely grown garlics, Music yields are generally good. Music sends up leaves mid-season, which can be harvest as “scapes.” Think of scapes as the garlic flavored equivalent of green onion tops. Favored by chefs, scapes make a great pesto and perk up stir fried vegetables when added at the last minute of cooking. Bulbs are harvest in mid-summer. The bulb’s flavor is medium hot with just a little muskiness in the background. This is a good culinary variety, adding character to pasta sauce, chili, and soups.
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