Call it old fashioned or even foolish in an age in which one can buy just about every sort of food desired in a supermarket, but there is something about raising my own food that brings me great satisfaction.
This year I decided to grow garlic over winter. I knew very little about growing garlic except that I could grow it over winter and that was appealing to have something out there growing during winter when nothing else was. I also liked the idea of not having to sacrifice any precious growing space during the summer when it is reserved for salad greens and tomatoes.
I poured over the seed catalogue descriptions of dozens of sorts of garlic. I considered whether to buy hard neck (the choice of chefs the world over for its superior flavour) or soft neck (the type that can be braided in to quaint bunches of garlic to hang in the kitchen). In the end, taste won out and I settled on Chesnok Red Garlic. The catalogue promised, “Easy to peel, long cloves with beautiful purple stripes and mild flavour…” The order soon arrived and the girls and I set about planting them one afternoon, which was fun and took very little time. Then we forgot about the garlic. Winter came and we got a good bit of snow (for Southern Maryland). We went on holidays for weeks, spent time sledding, drinking cocoa by the fire and all of the lovely things we do in winter without a single thought about our garlic. This was low maintenance gardening at its best!
Spring came, the snow melted and we were reminded of the garlic when it started sprouting leaves, growing up out of the ground when it was ready. (There was no spring planting date for me to try to work out or a predetermined one for me to forget.) By mid June the garlic bulbs were nearly ready. We probably could have left them in the ground another week or so, but as the girls and I were checking on them one day, pulling out a few to gauge progress turned into an enthusiastic harvesting session!
We strung up the garlic to cure, went on a two week holiday and returned to beautiful garlic (thanks to Bradley who saved the garlic from three thunderstorms while we were away!) We trimmed the garlic for a final harvest of 2.2 kilos of organic garlic.
I love the sense of satisfaction that comes from growing my own food. It has very little to do with saving money and much more to do with knowing where my food came from, teaching my kids about food and producing something good for my family. But I have to say that the financial aspect of garlic growing also very satisfying. Back in October, I paid $23.70 (plus shipping) for a pound of organic garlic. Our harvest came in just shy of five pounds. If we take the going price of organic garlic at our local farmers market, this is roughly worth $125. A hundred dollar gain and a year’s worth of organic garlic for doing next to nothing! That is hard to beat. The only thing that can top that is storing the garlic in an adorable garlic pot made by my mum!