Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Last of the scapes; Countdown to harvest!

The two of us were both surprised at the number of scapes waiting for us when we got to the garlic patch yesterday.  We both expected maybe 20 or 30, not the hundreds we found.  Good thing - we sold every last one from the previous picking - we had none for ourselves.  Problem solved.

We could both observe the gradual yellowing of the garlic stalks: signs that the bulb is getting ready to be harvested.  Visual cues are never 100% on the mark, though.  Sometimes you just have to dig one of the guys up - and then eat it of course!

Generally, you want about 2/3 of the plant to be yellowing before you harvest, since you want maximum bulb growth.  But too much growth, and the cloves start to seperate from the head, creating more surface area for molds and fungus, and leading to a decreased shelf life.  These "split" garlic heads taste just as good as the fimer whole heads, but they just don't last as long, so figuring out the right time for harvest really does become important.  And with 12 different varieties, each with a different maturation point, well, we're gonna have some work to do.  Wish us luck!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Sun is Up & Scapes are Gone

Well, once again we've managed to get some friends to do work for us!  If it wasn't enough to have our dear friend Nicole come up from New Orleans to visit (and press her into farm service) our friends Steve, a Forest Service locavore, and Kristi, master of all things jam, jelly, and pickle, came out to the garlic field and removed our scapes for us.  Of course, they get something out of the deal - gallons of delicious scapes.  Steve likes to freeze them - and he's right - the texture stays crisp, and the flavor remains piquant.  And if things go like last year, Kristi will sell out of her pickled scapes long before the Farmers Market closes in October.

Even with the beautiful weather we've had this July, we still expect to harvest our garlic later than usual, due to the cold spring.  Our real hope is that it stays dry over the harvest and curing period in August - last year's rain and humidity caused some crop failure.  We'd like to double our plantings this year, so we need every clove we can get.  Thanks for reading - talk to ya again real soon!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Back to Work!

Yesterday was a strangely welcome rain day.  Not that we didn't need the rain - neither Warren or I were looking forward to watering the garden.  But the downtime gave us a chance to rest, and the cool gray weather was a perfect excuse for Warren to make pot pies with a home-grown chicken we had smoked the day before - delicious!

Of course, the best part of that downtime was forcing me to get off my butt and get this blog up, as well as finish online projects for the Grand Rapids Farmers Market.  As with our farm, the Market has a tight budget, but we're making the most of it with local grassroots campaigns.

Warren went to check out the garlic last night, and brought back samples of two varieties, Music, and Italian Purple, shown at the right.  At this stage, they look like thin leeks or giant green onions and is known as 'green garlic'.  Some farmers will plant green garlic specifically by taking the smaller gloves during planting in October and plant them very close and deeper in the soil, in the same fashion that you do with onion sets in the spring to make green onions.  In a larger market, green garlic could be a great spring crop, but in our small rural area, there's not a huge demand for it.  Too bad - it tasted fantastic minced in the pot pies!

Soon, our garlic will be sending up scapes, sterile curlicue flowers that we cut off to encourage bulb growth.  These scapes are another culinary treat overlooked by many.  They have a crisp texture, a beautiful shape, and a peppery garlicky flavor that is wonderful in stir-fries, omelettes, and pastas.  And they make a killer pesto pureed with olive oil, Parmesan and almonds or pine nuts.  Scape pesto, cream cheese and smoked lake trout anyone?

Kristi Neary, one of the vendors at the Grand Rapids Farmer's Market will be coming over for a large portion of the scapes - she quickly sold out of her pickled scapes last year.  They make a killer garnish for one of my favorite breakfast foods: Bloody Marys!

Scapes also freeze well, and provide a summery fresh zest to a cold winter day's soup or stew.  I know we will be sauteeing some up in butter to go with our baby fingerling potatoes soon.

Well, it's time to finish my last cup of coffee and get out there, drizzle or no.  Talk to ya soon.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Hello Everyone!

Hi there, and welcome to our brand spankin' new blog and website.  If you know either Warren or me, you know what technophobes (or my new favorite word, luddites) we are.  So getting this relatively simple site up has taken more than just a few beers!

As you can imagine, there's lots more to put up: pictures, videos, recipes, links... the list goes on.  But this is a beginning, and you can expect great things to come.  Thanks for visiting.