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September 26, 2013

Garlic Festival crowded with people, bulbs


Several other varieties of garlic work well with the local climate and soil, including the German White, which is a great all -purpose garlic, and the Spanish Roja, which is spicy when raw.

Growing garlic is relatively easy, with clean bulbs, shallow plantings and as long as there isn’t too much rain. 

“Garlic does not like that”, Gies said. 

October, when the daytime temperatures are in the 50’s and 60’s, is the best time to plant, he said. Signs of life arrive in March. Harvest is early, usually by July.

Lucia Phillips from the Dismal Inn Sugar Company in Hartwick, said she didn’t know much about garlic when she met her husband, Bruce. He started out producing maple syrup, but now he and Lucia have made garlic a top crop. They grew 4500 bulbs last year. “Now it’s become my passion,” she said. 

The proof was evident in the garlic ropes hanging all around her tent as well as one around her neck. Although time consuming to make, it takes her 2-3 weeks to finish one crop’s worth, she said the ropes keep the garlic longer, holding the moisture in, so the rope is useful and portable. 

Although many growers at the festival complained of a lackluster growing season this year, due to all the rain, Philips said they were lucky in that they grow their garlic on a hillside, which helped shield their crop. 

The Harrison Creek Farm’s tent proved to be a real lesson in both garlic and the event. 

“I first grew garlic in 1989”, owner Mark Rowley said while standing among huge boxes of garlic cloves, “until then, I thought it was all the same.”

Now a convert to the taste of fresh grown garlic, he attributes his start and success in part, to his travel around the Utica area while working for Verizon. Meeting and dining with immigrants from all over, especially Bosnia and Croatia, gave him ample opportunity to learn first hand the impact different types of fresh grown garlic had on cooking among those who appreciated and desired the ingredient. 

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