Monday, August 18, 2014

What goes into growing your garlic?

The cycle of growing garlic is one that teaches the art of patience and trust. Many don't know what goes into growing this culinary staple that in some form, appears at farmers' markets and in CSA bags throughout the summer and fall. Here is the life cycle of garlic at Fresh Start Farms
One clove of garlic will turn into one head of garlic....but the process is drawn out over an entire year.

Soon-to-be-cut garlic scape
Each fall near the end of October, the farmers sit down with bushel baskets full of their biggest and best heads of garlic and break them down into individual cloves. The soil is prepared with the tractor and some good organic fertilizer or compost. Each clove is planted in 4-foot wide bed with three rows to a bed, 6 inches between each clove within a row. The whole bed is covered in a few inches of mulch hay, which acts as a protective blanket against the cold and as a shield against emerging weeds in the spring.
Garlic bulbs pulled from the field to dry

The little cloves of garlic hunker down for the winter, saving the strength that they need to burst forth from the surface in early spring. The first garlic often emerges in March and speeds upwards, upwards towards the sun incredibly quickly until it begins to produce flowers, or scapes, which you received in your CSA bag in July. 

By harvesting the scapes, the garlic plant redirects its energy from seed production into clove production, resulting in larger heads and cloves of garlic.

Garlic ready for market
More or less a month after garlic scapes are harvested, it is time to harvest the garlic. All the plants come out of the ground on the "perfect day" and are laid out to dry in a greenhouse or barn or other warm dry place for approximately 3 to 4 weeks. When the plants' stalks, roots, and wrappers are entirely dry, the garlic heads can be cut from their stalks and cleaned. At this point, the garlic is ready to spend the winter in your kitchen! Depending on the variety, garlic that is stored in a cool dry (not your refrigerator) place, should remain good for 5-9 months.

Member-to-member culinary share:

Need some inspiration in the kitchen? check out this member's CSA meal.
Fresh dill jasmine rice with chard and chickpeas.
"A great use for all that chard and dill I've received over the past few weeks!"

Upcoming events to note:
Our final Twilight Dinner:
August 28th at 6:30pm - Twilight Dinner at Turkey Hill Farm in Cape Elizabeth, chef Christina Seeley with Emmet Helrich of Local 188 in Portland. Pairings by Bunker Brewing Company. BYOB optional. Sponsor: Maine Brew Bus - Click HERE for tickets!
Complete Twilight Dinner info. can be found at our website:

Monthly farm visits for CSA members and volunteers:
Friday, August 22 from 9:00a – 11:00a in Lisbon
Friday, September 26 from 12:00p – 2:00p in Lisbon (Please note updated time)
Friday, October 3 from 12:00p – 2:00p in Lisbon

RSVP with Ashley if you would like to attend: & (207) 761-GROW

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