SPRING IS HERE
It’s always a treat to see the garlic in the Spring, popping up through the soil. It’s the first green thing we see in the spring. It’s been a very cold winter and spring here in Vermont, but hopefully some warm weather will be here soon and before long we will be picking scapes.
garlic popping up in the spring
The upstairs of the barn, which is usually used for drying garlic, turns out to be a great place for making music.
Every garlic bulb wants to grow up to become a luscious green garlic plant. Thus it sends up beautiful, spiraling shoots as it grows. These are garlic scapes. They grow from hard-neck varieties of garlic. Farmers harvest them, thus focusing all the garlic’s energy back down into bulb growth. While the uninitiated might want to weave these lovely garlic scapes into organic beer-can holders or fragrant gift baskets, those in the know have better ideas.
Fresh garlic scapes are terrific added to spaghetti sauce, salsa, pesto or omelets. The caloric content they add in these uses is negligible, but the flavor content is spectacular. According to Carolyn Cope of Seriouseats.com:
In one sense, scapes are to garlic as fusilli is to rigatoni: the crazy-bastard college buddy who never really embraced adulthood, the one you catch up with by phone once or twice a year. When they’re young and tender, they… offer more than a slightly rowdy alternative to garlic. Because of their substantial heft as opposed to garlic cloves, they are vegetable, aromatic, and even herb all in one. If you get some from your CSA, happen upon a giant pile of them at the farmers’ market, or snip them from your garden, don’t politely look the other way. Grab a handful and give one of these ideas a try.
The recipes she lists include the ever popular Garlic Scape Pesto and Grilled Scapes, but also includes:
Scape Compound Butter – add a little lemon
Scapes as Aromatic – use them as you would garlic
Scapes as vegetable – use them like you would green beans
Scape Soup – Check out this incredible Double Garlic Soup
Stop by the farm to buy armloads of scapes, or order them here, we’ll ship anywhere in the country.
image credit: chiotsrun.com
The unseasonably warm spring weather is breaking records here in Vermont and causing speculation about the 2012 growing season. Trees are budding earlier, migratory birds have returned ahead of schedule, and peepers are singing. Vermont’s maple sugaring season has come and gone – weeks early.
While some areas are experiencing the warmest March in more than one hundred years, it is not uncommon for Vermont temperatures to dip below freezing as late as early May. This may cause some problems for the more vulnerable crops lulled into an early bloom by the record warmth.
But the garlic is doing fine! In fact, the mild winter nudged many Belarus up as early as November! The unusual growing conditions may cause some winterkill and some smaller heads, but the 2012 garlic crop is doing very well. Mulch is part of the secret. The natural hardiness of garlic gets a boost from good mulch. It protects that plant, keeps weeds down and keeps the ground moist. We recommend keeping mulch on your garlic all summer long.
The Farmers Almanac predicts a cooler than normal April. While these radical temperature swings won’t harm the garlic, they may effect your mood. Don’t lose sight of garlic’s powers to heal and detoxify. Garlic is a mood-elevating super-food. And National Garlic Day (April 19th) is right around the corner. You might just find that you need garlic more than your garlic needs you.
image credit: neatorama.com
Garlic is planted in the fall. Because the crop is hidden underground, it remains a bit of a mystery until harvest time. This is part of why each garlic harvest is accompanied by a great deal of anticipation and often followed by a great deal of celebration (garlic festivals are a popular late summer entertainment all over the world).
The garlic harvest here at Green Mountain Garlic is in full swing. Here’s how it works: Once the leaves start to brown, we cut back on watering. Garlic plants do not like to have soggy feet. When half to two-thirds of the leaves have browned and died off, we check a few bulbs to make sure the bulbs have reached a good size. When they look good, the harvest begins.
We loosen the soil around the bulbs and gently remove them from the ground. Garlic bruises easily so, we take good care and harvest by hand. Garlic is susceptible to sunburn, so we don’t leave it in direct sunlight. Once we bring it in from the field, we hang the garlic in our barn to drydown or cure. The barn is specifically designed to have good air circulation for this purpose.
Garlic is best when cured gradually at temperatures closely resembling those found a few inches under the ground where the garlic was grown. As the garlic cures, excess moisture from the roots and leaves evaporates or draws into the bulb.
Some of the biggest and best cloves from the harvest will be used as the start of next year’s crop and some will make it to dinner tables across Vermont and New England.