We just harvested hardneck racombole garlic at Ryder Farm. Betsy Ryder one of the owner of Ryder Farm operates a 3 acre farming operation growing seasonal vegetbles, perennial herbs and flowers. It was a fun day and a very satisfying chores. All the Ryder Farm interns were very excited about it as they were tending the garlic since early spring where shey kept the garlic field pretty much weed free and also fed the garlic few times with fertilizer. This is important to have a good size garlic bulb. As Ryder Farm is certified organic we are only allowed to use fertilizers that are approved by the certifying agency in our case it is NOFA (North East Organic Farmer’s Association). We watched the garlic grow and mature. 3-4 wks prior to harvest we were taking the scape off the plant with the flowering bulbil on the tops to the market. The scapes are the stem with the flowering bulbil on top, that usually are cut off from the plant so that the bulb could grow bigger. The scapes are very tasty, mild
flavor and a favorite for garlic lovers. We also pulled some whole garlic plant with lush green stems and leaves, gave it to the CSA members as part of wkly share and sold some in the farmer’s market as spring garlic. The beauty is the whole plant with just formed tender bulb are used in any culinary recipe that calls for garlic. Are you a garlic lover? Our CSA members and customers at the market enjoyed this as a delicacy. One of the intern Ross commented that the scapes are out of this world in taste and flavor.
Garlic is very easy to grow. I’ve never encountered much pest and disease problems with growing garlic. I’ve been growing garlic for almost 14 years. Garlic seems to be able to take care of itself pretty well against pests and are quite tolerant to diseases when proper practices are maintained. The key is garlic loves very well drained slightly acidic soil with good organic matter and doesn’t like weeds. Feed them every 3-4 wks in their growing cycle with fertilizer and they will be happy. In years when it rains too much, and you have poor drainage conditions garlic tends to be susceptible to root rotting, stem and leaves diseases. Many gardeners use garlic solution to control pests in the garden. Many brands of garlic solution are found in stores but we can also make our own solution. Just crush some garlic very finely to get a concentration of garlic juice and than mix with water for dilution and spray on the plants that have bugs problems. The solution works pretty well on aphids and flea beetles which is a nuisance to some leafy vegetables and flowers.
We pulled the garlic plants from the ground and carried them in carts to the tool shed and layed them on a bench for drying and storage. The garlic is harvested when the plants have half of their leaves turned yellow. The reason being the plants are easier to pull from the ground and as the bulbs are already matured to their maximum and they won’t grow any larger. If you wait and keep it longer in the ground, the garlic opens up and the top of the stem becomes soft and when pulled, breaks off, leaving the bulb in the ground which makes it almost impossible to get them out of the ground. Sometimes it will start its life cycle with emerging sprouts. And of course it doesn’t keep. We took extra care when laying the garlics and layed them in a manner so that the garlic will have proper air circulation to avoid rotting.
Our garlics will be drying in this manner in the tool shed on the bench. For market and also for CSA share we will process the garlic by cutting the stem an half inch above the bulb, trimming the roots and scuffing off the first dirt parchment sheath. When the bulbs are sufficiently dry enough they will be process the same way for storage. I have found garlic stores well in a well ventilated area around 60 degrees. In the past I have also dried garlic in bunches by hanging them. You can braid your garlic for storage also.
We will select some of the best and biggest bulb as seeds for next year. The cloves are used as seeds for planting. To have a good bulb for next year, the timing of planting the seed cloves are very important. The best timing is after the good hard frost in the fall. That gives the cloves enough time to produce and establish good roots in the ground. Sometimes short top growth emerges, and if it does sprout it will survive the freeze and snowfall.
You can come to Ryder Farm farmstand and to Brewster Farmer’s market on Wednesday to buy our garlic. Hopefully you will love them as we all have enjoyed growing them.
You can also contact Betsy Ryder at 845-279-4161 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to order garlic.