Although fall isn't really here, it's starting to feel a bit like it. One of September's garden events for me is garlic planting. Well, I try for September but have planted as late as Dec. (don't tell anybody).
Weekend before last, DH took me to a DC farmers market in DuPont Circle. Because we would be spending the day out, I was under strict orders NOT to load up on stuff (so tempting). Therefore, I decided I would limit myself to searching for local garlic.
This thought came upon me rather belatedly, I'm ashamed to admit. Yearly, I order garlic and rather enjoy selecting from the tempting varieties offered. You would think, though, after some seven years of this, that I'd have quite a bit of my own to replant. Not so. I truly hadn't given this much thought until the last year. Two interesting things occurred (with the garlic). One was with some New Mexico Inchellium Red (so called by me because I bought it at the Santa Fe Farmers Market three years ago or so). I was down to my last three cloves last year when I planted it. However, this summer when I harvested those three cloves, they had produced pretty nice heads of garlic...one in particular made me jump up and down (a sight to behold). Hmmm, I thought...(I am prone to stunning thought...) Could it be? Sleep, leap and creep?? And/or acclimation to growing here in Virginia vs. the Southwest??
Added to that was some garlic I bought at a Northern Virginia market (Falls Church?? I forget.) last year which the vendor said they called Korean Rocambole (exact name was unknown). It had done very well for them and they grew it year after year. This particular farm is located in PA, but still a heck of a lot closer than the Pacific Northwest where I usually (and still...two orders coming this fall...some things never change) order my garlic. The Korean Rocambole did pretty well for me, too. Hmmm.
Now, if you recall, I've written about my garlic before. Even showed my harvest. Mostly I talk about the cats lying on it and my frustration with losing track of the name of a particular variety. But, after seven years, I can't point to one and say, "See this one, it grows great for me, year after year." Partly, that is because, as I have mentioned, I like the ordering part...but, I am beginning to think that it is also because I have been impatient and have not given it a chance to adjust properly to very different circumstances. Virginia is just a tad different than Washington or Oregon. I could go off on a tangent about the differences in zone 7, but that's not my point today. (I do have a point. I think.)
So, this year, this season of garlic planting, I will test out my new theories. I will not be so impatient and will plant back more of this summer's harvest than I might normally. Back will go some of the New Mexico Inchellium Red, the Korean Rocambole...and a few others who might not have made the grade in years past. Of course, I will add the garlic currently on order.....and, I will show you (in a minute) what I bought at the farmers market in DC (most of it grown in Maryland, I think).
Funny, I recognized all the varieties from one vendor and asked her if she ordered from the same place I did (she did!). She, however, had much larger garlic to show for her efforts (okay, she grows it to sell and probably pays more attention to it). I tested out my local theory and she agreed (she probably just wanted to sell me some garlic and have me move along!).
Here's what I bought at the market:
The one up at the top is from the first vendor I saw selling garlic and was an impulse buy (I didn't know what else I might find...bird in the hand)...the gal had no idea what kind it was (as if I don't have enough of my own unknowns...I was determined to buy local!). I've grown the three on the paper bags (probably more than once) before, but not starting with local stock. We shall see. The New York White (on the pink paper) is a new one for me, so, of course, I have to try it.
And, here's some of my own sitting in the basement awaiting its fate. Yes, I'm sure you will note the fine conditions under which I store/keep my garlic.
Here's the thing. Like a lot of stuff you grow yourself, the taste of fresh garlic is unbeatable. Don't think that those bins of garlic in the grocery store are really fresh. Okay, they're better than a lot of stuff, but just wait until you grow your own. You will discover how juicy garlic is, how incredible it smells, the nuances of taste (they really are different)...and you will use much more than you ever dreamed. Once you start putting fresh garlic on your garlic bread, you will never go back to powder. Never!
Maybe (most likely) it isn't as big as those heads of garlic in the store...you will win in the taste department, though! My point is that I don't waste garlic, even the small cloves get used...I'm also very picky about my garlic press. We can talk about that another time. Maybe on Gotta Eat.
You have your mission. Grow garlic. Eat garlic. Wear a BIG smile...