Thursday, July 19, 2012

FIN Agli



And there lay an empty field, but for the remaining weeds, straw, and compost.

Three boxes of garlic, some hauled to the studio, and some to the apartment.

There is something anti-climactic about harvest, it is not truly the end, but the beginning of the public aspect of growing commercially -the packaging, the marketing, the selling. A couple of weeks ago I whipped up a bunch of tags, settling on those below, printed and cut them. Home grown, to the last. No cultivars this year, only varieties.



Truth Telling:

This year's crop was low yielding. I planted 1835 cloves from 292 heads of garlic. In a perfect world I would harvest 1835 healthy, marketable heads of garlic. On average, one would see 5 times the amount of heads planted, or, for me, about 1500. I'll be marketing closer to 1000, none at seed standard, which is far more difficult to achieve than I could have imagined.

Those varieties and cultivars that grew well did so because I spent money on high-quality seed. Yet, I also spent good money on middle to low quality seed, or what I would now call not seed. Beginner's mistakes are great, because the failures they induce are the best teacher. My greatest failure was brought on by my willingness to give in to lower cost, great-looking heads of garlic at Union Square Greenmarket. I can now say from experience, it's too risky. Beautiful, large heads of garlic sold as food may have the worst diseases lurking under their wrappers. By the time you see the damage in your garden, it's too late. You do not want to introduce these pests if you ever intend to grow any allium species. White Rot can last decades and the Bloat Nematode several years in the soil or on alternate hosts. Cornell has begun (finally, wonderfully) subsidized testing for Bloat Nematode.

And then there are the minor problems. A wet May that led to one less wrapper on my Purple Stripes and consequently, a helluva lot less purple stripes. Bulbs that never sized up. I've had a couple (meaning two) bulbs rot on me in the apartment. You know it when that happens -you smell garlic. Honestly, garlic shouldn't give off any significant odor once it dries. When you smell garlic, you have a problem -sniff it out and destroy the whole bulb. Problems with PayPal. Oy. Would people actually want to fill out order forms and send in checks? If you're reading this and considering buying a bundle, fill me in -PayPal or check in the mail? This year the quantity is so light that email orders could work, but with larger quantities, orders could get lost. And finally -packaging. Wow, we still haven't figured out how to package and deliver in a garlic-friendly, low-cost and recyclable way.

It's a long road to a garlic bulb too.


7 comments:

  1. Paypal is probably a better method for folks mail ordering things...checks are a PITA for me. And a local pickup would be awesome--meet the farmer, see all the choices, and pick your brain about garden cultivation efforts.

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    1. I hear you Glendaler. By the way, I will not be planting any of this year's produce. There was disease in the field due to my hubris. These bulbs are only for chow.

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    2. Thanks for the reminder--I'm more hoping to use your variety as a menu for figuring out what to plant next year.

      And for enjoying!

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  2. May you sell them all. I like the tags. Maybe you could connect with some kind of foodie event/market and just sell them direct? Maybe Sustainable Flatbush's community garden or something close by you? I know they will sell quick. Congrats and bigger and better next year out East I hope.

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    1. SweetG, I'm looking into that for next year. Maybe New Amsterdam.

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  3. I'd prefer Paypal but wouldn't hesitate to put a check in the mail. And I agree, an in person pickup would be swell.

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    1. Ellen, if I get enough local orders, we'll do just that

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