Bzzzz November 26th, 2009

A couple of months ago a member of my local foods group told us that she was buying garlic at a local farm stand when she thought to ask where the garlic was from.

“China,” was the farm stand worker’s response.

China? Chinese garlic at my local farm stand?

garlic harvest

The garlic harvest from Bumblebee garden

It turns out that two-thirds of the world’s garlic is produced in China. Frankly, given the toxic products I’ve been reading about from China—baby formula, dog food, dry wall—I think it’s a good idea to know where my products are coming from and avoid problems where I can.

That wasn’t my motivation for growing garlic, but it’s as good as any to add to what I already have growing this year—so I don’t have to buy Chinese garlic, especially garlic masquerading as local foods at my local farm stand.

Last fall I planted six varieties of garlic on October 26. I know the date because I noted it in my Lee Valley 10-Year Garden Journal. I planted Kettle River Giant, German White, Chesnok Red, Transylvanian, Music Pink and Applegate.  When I harvested the garlic the German White was the largest and, it turns out, the most flavorful in our salads. The Chesnok Red and Music Pink were the most puny and some were a bit bitter.

I have put aside more of the German White to go into the ground after reading about where most of our garlic comes from.

garlic in the garden

The garlic in May starts to turn yellowish. Garlic is harvestested when about two-thirds of the tops have died back.

I haven’t read about there being any problems with Chinese garlic. But I’ve read about enough problems with our food supply that I’m convinced the more food I can raise right here at Bumblebee, where I am the caretaker and I take care, the better off my family and I are.  It’s a matter of health, but it’s also a matter of principle.

It turns out it tastes pretty good too.

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Bzzzz October 26th, 2008

Here it is the end of October and the garden is still pushing out things we can eat—red peppers, Swiss chard, lettuce, lots of herbs. I just harvested the last of the lima beans. I also have a beautiful and abundance lemon grass plant, so am seeking recipes that use more than just one stalk.

The garden is still a lovely place to visit. I believe that my habit of mixing vegetables, herbs and flowers contributes to the garden looking rather nice even now since there aren’t large bare patches where summer vegetables have been ripped out. Also, we haven’t yet had a killing frost, so there are flowers blooming on the ice plant, Miss Huff lantana, cock’s comb and cat mint, among others.

I have planted broccoli, but decided to forego the collards and Brussels sprouts this year, since I am the only one here who really eats them. In my enthusiasm for winter productivity I managed to buy 2.5 pounds of different types of garlic from Seeds of Change. They all got into the ground today, so I’m patting myself on the back for completing that big chore.

Last week I planted more spinach and lettuce in a coldframe and am keeping my fingers crossed that we can get a good enough harvest in the winter to avoid buying a few of those fancy salad greens my husband favors at $4 a bag. I am also keeping my fingers crossed that the whole coldframe doesn’t sail away with a good gust of wind. I have it anchored on all sides, of course, but I can’t help envisioning the worst—coldframe flying away in the dark of night and leaving my baby greens exposed to the elements.

I am interested in hearing your fall and winter strategies for keeping the garden going. Any ideas you can share?

Keep warm!

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