The Quest for Garlic

We have garlic drying in the barn this year for this first time in a long time. Back in 2007 we grew a lot of garlic. That year we harvested a quarter of an acre and the yield was about 2000lbs. This was great crop for us and we used to put heads in everyone’s shares for weeks and weeks. We grew two varieties that were very complimentary in flavor and in the years we had been growing them had improved in our soil to produce big head with big cloves. Then in 2008 everything changed.

Trying to add some diversity to our crop we bought in some seed for a new variety from a grower in Canada that was supposed to be different in color and flavor. In addition to these traits it also had a fungal disease that we weren’t looking for. That fungus infected the garlic we were saving for seed and wiped out our entire crop.

Setbacks in farming are a dime a dozen but this one really hurt. Garlic, maybe even more than wine, is deeply influenced by new soils and climates. A sharply flavored white garlic grown in Maine may adapt into a sweet subtle red garlic if planted in Washington state or vice versa. About 10 years ago hundreds of known garlic varieties were genetically mapped and it turns out these are only seven all these varieties of hardneck, soft neck, sweet, red, etc. that are truly different. All these colors and flavors come from the plants reacting and adapting to their environment. So our garlic was truly “Crystal Spring garlic” and we felt its loss.

Since 2008 we’ve been waiting.  Two things have kept us out of garlic: the fungus in the soil and a good source of seed. Five years is the standard time for the fungus to work its way out of the soil.  The real challenge has been trying to find a good source of seed. After many conversations with other growers I found a farm in Maine that grows garlic seed and has not bought any new seed in over 10 years, ensuring that her crop is clean of disease. We bought 25 pounds last year and planted about 100 feet of 3-row bed. Of this crop about 75% will go back to seed as we try and build our base along with another 25 pounds of new seed from the same farm.  Planting all this seed means we will not have garlic for the share this year but with luck the 350 foot bed we plan to put in this fall will year some for next year, heralding the return of “Crystal Spring garlic”.

Farm Yogurt

We now have quarts of incredible farm yogurt for sale at CSA pick-up. This rich cream-at-the-top product of Wholesome Holmstead Farm in Winthrop is some of the best I have ever had. Perfect with fresh blueberries! We are gauging your interest with the hope of having them deliver a yogurt/cheese share next year.

Crystal Spring Pork

We will have pork for sale by the cut  this week.  These are a group of pigs that spent the winter with us eating brewery barley and gelato-based dairy products and so far, they taste great. Browse through the freezer to shop for your next grilling event or Sunday breakfast.

What’s in the Share this week?


Baby Bok choi

Summer Squash/cukes


Summer onions



What’s in Upic? (*Reminder – you can come to Upic anytime on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays!)

Green Beans (new planting)