Welcome to the GroEat Farm newsletter, which has been designed to keep you up to date with what has been happening on our garlic farm.
Our 2020 Garlic is Available for Purchase. We will begin shipping in September 2020.
Click Here to see the list of garlic available from GroEat.
The 2020 varieties available for planting and eating include:
We spent about a week harvesting approximately 5,000 garlic plants by hand. We used a pitchfork, broadfork and shovel to complete the task. Last fall, our seed garlic was planted in raised beds (our beds are linear hilled rows made by pulling a hand-made "soil carver" behind our tiller). Growing garlic in raised beds helped reduce labor and swearing during harvesting.
Increasing Soil Bacteria in our Garlic Patch
We set out to increase the bacteria in our soil, with hopes, it would result in better garlic.
We began by mixing a gallon of whole milk, a quart of molasses, water from washing a pound of white, starchy rice, and 40 gallons of water.
We mixed these ingredients together and let them ferment for about 30 days. The result was a brown liquid, almost the same color as a diluted glass of Coke or Pepsi. Tiny microbes eat the sugars and organic matter and flourish. We started an experiment this year by applying a diluted supply (by 50% with more water) to our garlic soil in the early SPRING and voila, instant organic fertilizer. Molasses has also shown surprising benefits in the garden. The mineral content of blackstrap molasses, combined with the sugar content, helps to feed microorganisms in the soil. It appears as if the garlic plants loved the company of tiny microbes.
Making Soil Bacteria is Really Easy. The lactose in dairy milk is an important ingredient. Apparently the bacteria in lactose eats all the bacteria we do not want in our soil. Throw away the curds that form on the top of the barrel. You get soil bacteria by the billions and billions. The plants get healthy and happy. Give it a try.
Grades of Garlic. Garlic Size
The USDA has attempted to assure consumers that the garlic they buy has gone through a rigorous review process by highly-skilled graders and auditors that follow the official grade standards and process standards developed, maintained and interpreted by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service.
U.S. No. 1 Garlic consists of garlic of similar varietal characteristics which is mature and well cured, compact, with cloves well filled and fairly plump, free from mold, decay, shattered cloves, and from damage caused by dirt or staining, sunburn, sunscald, cuts, sprouts, tops, roots, disease, insects, or mechanical or other means. Each bulb shall be fairly well enclosed in its outer sheath. Unless otherwise specified, the minimum diameter of each bulb shall be not less than 1-1/2 inches.
To learn more about garlic size, and standards for grading garlic, view this USDA web site: https://www.ams.usda.gov/grades-standards/garlic-grades-and-standards
It takes time to grow large garlic bulbs. If you purchase small bulbs (with small cloves) it can take two or three years for them to adjust to your climate and soil conditions**. Hopefully, over time, and with the appropriate soil conditions, water and fertilizer, the size of your garlic bulbs, and cloves, will reach their genetic potential.
**Acclimatization (also called acclimation or acclimatation) is the process in which an individual organism adjusts to a change in its environment (such as a change in altitude, temperature, humidity, photoperiod, or pH), allowing it to maintain performance across a range of environmental conditions.
Cross Section of a Garlic Stem
If you have not done this yet, give it a try. After harvesting a garlic plant, cut off the stem, a few inches above the bulb, and take a close look at the cross section.
Stems are a part of the shoot system of a garlic plant. They vary in diameter, depending on the garlic cultivar. Hardneck garlic has a hard, stiff stem (as shown in the photo). Softneck garlic is more fragile, thin.
The main function of this stem is to provide support to the plant, holding leaves, and in many cases, stems also store food for the plant.
The stem of the plant connects the garlic bulb to the leaves, helping to transport absorbed water and minerals to different parts of the plant. It also helps to transport the products of photosynthesis, namely sugars, from the leaves to the rest of the plant.
Use your fingernail to remove some of the layers that surround the stem. It's almost like the layers of a tree ring. The center stem of a hardneck garlic is firm and rigid and also makes up the the garlic scape. In other words, the garlic scape is a continuation of the center, rigid stem.
Micrograph shows a stem has a central pith layer. Pith cells are easy to see with a magnifying glass. Surrounding the pith is a ring of xylem cells. Xylem cells, radiate out from the center in rows. Rows of green-staining phloem cells radiate out from the xylem cells. Phloem cells are about half the size of xylem cells. Outside the phloem is a ring of cells that make up the peripheral cortex. Cells in the peripheral cortex are rounded rectangles that lie perpendicular to the phloem.
Clipping the Hardneck Stem
We'd like to share with you, a tool we found to be effective at clipping the hardneck stem from the garlic bulb.
You worked hard! Your garlic has been harvested. After hanging your garlic in bundles of 8-12 depending on stalk size, you utilized fans to improve air circulation. Other than brushing off loose soil from the bulb at time of harvest you don't clean until curing is complete. Curing time will depend on your weather, and you plan on 4 weeks until dry.
How do you cut that thick garlic stem 2" above the bulb? We have tried over twelve (12) tools and have found this one to be the best.
The tool is made by Shark Bite and is designed to cut one-inch plastic tubing. Once the garlic is cured and dry, start by trimming the roots leaving less than a 1/4" then trimming the stem to 2" above the bulb. The tool's razor-sharp cutting edge easily cuts thousands of hardneck garlic stems.
Next, clean and grade. Remove the outer most wrapper or two until the bulb is clean of dirt & debris. Check the bulb for damaged cloves, missing stems, etc. Set aside any damaged bulbs for immediate use or processing.
Select your best bulbs for replanting in the fall, typically between 2"-3", with large well formed cloves.