Monday, May 27, 2013

What is Green Garlic and What does it have to do with Organic Agriculture?

For the past three years our garlic harvests have been significantly reduced by White Rot, a pathogen which causes the roots to soften and discolor, and leaves to yellow. Affected plants are inedible. White rot is typically introduced to a field on contaminated garlic seed and remains active in the soil for 7 to 20 years. For the last few years we tried rotating the location of garlic in our field, in hopes that we could avoid it that way. However, the spores travel in the wind and our attempts have been unsuccessful. The only organic control is to stop growing garlic, and to wait.
Last fall, at the time farmers typically plant garlic, my coworker Rick (who suffers from the same disease in his field at the Mort Brooks Memorial Farm) suggested we not give up on garlic entirely, but instead just harvest it early in the season before the disease sets in. I had only heard of green garlic, but had never grown it or cooked with it. We both gave it a shot. He tried selling his green garlic to the Weavers Way stores and to Head House market in center city and it was a hit in both locations. I planned on including it as a stable in the first couple of shares for the CSA.
The bunches of green garlic you received last week and will be receiving this week are literally immature garlic, that have yet to form a bulb. It has a mild garlic flavor and cooks like a leek. I’ve been cooking with it all week and have been enjoying how much easier it is to process in the kitchen than traditional, full size garlic- no messy garlic presses, no thin skin to peel off, just chop and throw it in your dish!
I hope you’ve been enjoying this new crop as much as I have. I’d love to hear your feedback about it! If you need a little encouraging, we will be sampling a green garlic butter at the pick-ups this week. The recipe is included below.

While I know we will all miss mature, full size garlic heads, know that this creative solution is our response to the option of using chemicals to control pathogens, and instead we are keeping these chemicals out of your food and our soil.

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