One of our favorite fall tasks is to plant garlic, which we do each November just before the ground begins to freeze. The goal is to get 8000 garlic cloves in the ground in time for them to set roots, but not too early so they don’t send up a green shoot until next spring. The JSF crew has been hard at work for the last two weeks and the cloves are snug in the soil until next spring, when they’ll be one of the first crops to break ground with their green shoots – sometimes even pushing through the lingering April snow cover.
Garlic is a member of the Allium genus (along with chives, onions, leeks and scallions). At JSF we grow several hardneck varieties as they tend to do best through Vermont’s hard winters. French Rocambole and Russian Red Rocambole are two we grow for their intense strong flavor and easy peeling qualities. Hardneck garlics have one row of cloves surrounding a prominent stem, which is called a scape. Each summer when the scape emerges and sends up a tall stalk from the middle of the plant we cut them off so the plant puts its energy into making a big garlic bulb underground, rather than growing the scape into a flower. Scapes themselves are a tasty part of the garlic plant and can be grilled, sautéed, or added to pesto. We also grow a softneck variety called Nootka Rose, as softneck varieties store for a long time through the winter, allowing us to eat garlic well into April.
Try this easy roasted garlic recipe – one of the best ways to eat garlic. Enjoy!