Garlic adventures

Garlic shoots in snow, May 7th 2014

Garlic takes about a year to grow from bulb to bulb. Starting with a bulb in the fall, cloves are seperated for planting. Each clove will grow into a whole new plant. These are planted in the fall before the ground freezes, so that the cloves settle in and start to make roots. The cloves overwinter in the soil and jump up in the spring – these ones had a few inches of green poking up in May when we had another spring snowfall!

Garlic is senstivie to day length, which triggers the leaf, flower, and bulb development. A little snow doesn’t hold them back, but you do want to protect the cloves from too much freezing and thawing. Mulching is a great technique to moderate the up and down temperature cycles through the winter.

About a month later in mid June the shoots were now “knee high to a moose”.

Moose strolling in the garden, June 2014

This visitor left only a few hoof prints, being more interested in the gout weed and raspberries along the field edges. Throughout the summer it’s important to keep the garlic well weeded and given some extra nourishment as it grows.

 

Most of the varieties we grew are “hard neck”, and will produce a flower bud called a scape. Scapes are removed from the stalk to encourage bigger bulb development. Scapes have a milder garlic flavour and can used just like the cloves. Garlic scape pesto is such a lovely thing to fill the garlic gap mid season.

After some dissappointing garlic harvests in 2012/2013, we realised that mold or fungus was being transmitted through our saved seed garlic. To address the issue we re-started with all new seed stock (mostly from Blue Marsh Farm in Cape Breton). It was a bit of an initial start-up cost to this, but now we are paying close attention to disease issues in the garlic and trying to make sure only the best is grown.

There are so many kinds of garlic, with different storage qualities, flavour, colour, and bulb size, or number of cloves in a bulb. Choosing several varieties of garlic was part of a trial to find unique characteristics that work well with our methods and growing conditions.

When it came to harvesting the crop, the bulbs must be handled gently to prevent any brusing or damage – quality is very important, especially for saving seed.  Bulbs were laid out on shelving in single rows in a semi-shaded green house space. Normally, this location would be too bright or hot but the month of “Fogust” brought two weeks of rain at harvest time. This dry space was essential to having a great crop!

So in the fall of 2014 we planted about 400 cloves for garlic in 2015 – see you then!

"Spanish Roja" and "New York White", two heirloom garlic varieties ready for CSA distribution, October 2014

CSA program is full for 2014

A big welcome & thank you to all our new & returning CSA members!

Community Supported Agriculture is the heart of Seed to Spoon. This partnership between the farm and our supporters is a unique model for healthy local agriculture and healthy local economy.
Directly marketing our produce makes the small farm viable – we take extra care with our resources to grow high quality fresh produce with little waste. Running a CSA takes that concept further and secures a partnership before seeds are even in the ground.

It is a practical arrangement for farmers; we don’t go into debt in the spring, we can focus on ‘just’ farming instead of marketing and sales in the summer. Since we want to keep you coming back each season – you’ll receive a huge variety of super fresh organically grown produce that varies with the season, plus insight into the farm season and opportunity to help out and learn. This year we have a number of new members from the neighborhood around our St. John’s pickup spot, its exciting to see that grow plus foster delicious bread baking and value added herb ventures this year.

It takes a community to do this and we’re super happy to have you!

Kohlrabi "Eder" seedlings - patiently waiting to be planted for the CSA

Posted in CSA

Recipe: Roasted Tomato Passata

The kitchen smells amazing. I’m using up all the split tomatoes to make the roasted tomato passata recipe from the Preserves: River Cottage Handbook No.2 by Pam Corbin. This is my favorite preserves book with dreamy photography, small batches, and real attention to seasonal availability.

Making preserves does take a bit of forethought, and like always, I have to make a substitution or two (no shallots, just a few small sweet onions & only rosemary for herbs). Never mind that doing this on a weeknight after our CSA pick, hasn’t left much time for a ‘real’ supper!

Click to continue for the recipe!

Checking in at the seed saving garden

Yesterday I went to the Memorial University Community Garden to check in on the Seed Saving Demonstration Garden. This garden is supported by Seeds of Diversity and the McLean Foundation, highlighting the value of saving our own seeds.
Seed saving can help adapt varieties to your own growing conditions, preserve biodiversity, contribute towards self reliance, and it’s fun!
Seed saving plot at community garden

In the spring Dan Rubin (Perfectly Perennial) and I co-hosted an introductory seed saving workshop. We passed around samples of like kale pods and heirloom peppers, to get everyone up close and personal with seeds. Adding seed saving to the garden brings the season full circle, from seed to seed.

Some of those ideas now bearing fruit – here’s a little detail on the plants currently setting seed in the garden.

Calendula flower and seed headCalendula (Erfurter Orange, Calendula officinalis) – The flower is edible, delicious fresh in salads or used medicinally in infused oils. Erfurter orange is a high yielding variety with resinous and vibrant double blossoms, indicating high amounts of flavonoids and carotenoids.

 

fava bean podsFava beans (Vicia faba) – Growing on large upright silvery green plants, 3-8 beans are found inside a large fuzzy pod. The source of these plants is seed grown from our fields last year. They are growing vigorously, but seemed to be a bit late in setting pods.

 

Tomatillo plant with husk fruitTomatillos (Toma verde, Physalis philidephica) – A member of the nightshade family, like tomatoes and peppers, tomatillos are a hardy fairly easy to grow plant. The fruit is encased in a papery husk and is used in sauces and salsa, particularly in Mexican cuisine.