Sunday, November 20, 2011

How Does Your Garlic Grow?

With the annual planting of the garlic, we transition into a quieter phase of late autumn and winter at Restoration Farm. Mother Nature has welcomed our efforts with blue skies and brisk winds. Pine needles and russet leaves pirouette through the sky and we are surrounded by autumn. We gather at rustic worktables near the Red Barn to begin the work of separating garlic cloves for planting.


This year’s planting day is later than in past seasons and members are bundled in coats, hats and gloves. Head Grower Dan Holmes plots the planting of the garlic as close to the culmination of the full moon as possible. It is an ancient farming practice and following the lunar cycle is said to increase the quality of crops. During the waning Moon (Full to New Moon) root crops like garlic and onions are traditionally planted.

Very quickly, my work gloves become cumbersome. I abandon them in order to work faster and soon I can smell the sweet scent of garlic on my fingertips. Working together, we amass several bushel baskets of garlic cloves that are ready to be planted.

Donna Sinetar, “The Chicken Lady” harvests some fresh snacks of carrots and kohlrobi from a nearby bed for the volunteers. She simply rinses the carrots of dirt, and passes large orange chunks around. The carrots taste amazingly sweet.

It is time for planting, and I walk through the historic village and pass an old Dutch house on the way to the garlic field.

Last season’s bed is now blanketed with a cover crop of oats and field peas. The new garlic bed has been cultivated and “dimpled” and members are on their knees pushing individual cloves into the soil.


In short time, the field is planted and we capture the moment in a photo with George and Arline Garbarini and Donna Sinetar. It is a job well done for the members at Restoration Farm. In an era when the months seem to fly by with unnerving speed, it is not an exaggeration to say that before too long, we will be standing in this same field in the sweltering heat of summer harvesting fat bulbs of fresh garlic.

What better way to celebrate the annual planting of the garlic, than with a restorative bowl of mussels in a steaming broth of garlic and white wine?

Preparing mussels is a simple process of sautéing aromatics in oil and butter, creating a seasoned broth with wine and lemon juice and then briefly steaming the mussels in the broth. These recipes provided inspiration. The garlic, red onion and parsley come straight from the fields of Restoration Farm, and the white wine is my favorite Sancerre. The crisp, mineral accents of the wine are a perfect match for fragrant, locally grown garlic and shellfish.

©2011 T.W. Barritt All Rights Reserved

18 comments:

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Did you plant special "seed garlic" or garlic from this year's harvest? I've always just taken a regular head of garlic and divided it up, but I know there is something called seed garlic. Perhaps that just means it's organic.

Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen said...

Garlic and mussels seem to go together. The farm looks very fallish this time of the year and reminds me a little of New England, especially the pretty barn.

I had to smile when you mentioned the gloves. Gloves seem too clumsy to me and I always toss them aside and worry about the consequences later.

Wishing you and your family an early happy Thanksgiving greeting. I know your pies will be "out of this world" delicious T.W. and the highlight of the meal.
Sam

~~louise~~ said...

Did someone say Garlic? Katie and I were just talking about how my garlic endeavors seem to fail each year. I too have tried again, we'll see:) If not, I know where to get some, lol:)

Restoration Farm does appear to have a growing silence this time of year. It's just wonderful to step through the seasons.

Thank you so much for sharing, T.W. Enjoy the weather while you can!!!

Kat said...

What a beautiful place to be! I have been meaning to plant me some garlic for sometime now. The mussels look divine. Thanks. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family/friends.

Kalyn said...

Looks like a very fun day. I mean to plant garlic every year and I never seem to manage it!

nataliadecuba said...

Was so pleased to see you there! Wish we could've stayed longer? Will we see you this afternoon? Natalia

Catherine said...

Dear T.W., I bet it was a great day! The fresh air and the planting what a great way to spend the day. The meal to reward such a day was perfect. A dish of mussels prepared perfectly. (I would toss this over spaghetti)....Glad to see the farm is thriving. Blessings, Catherine

Colette Burke said...

My compliments on the photography in this post TW. Not only are the shots beautiful, they perfectly capture the story of your day at the Farm. Colette.

Gloria said...

I love garlics and when I saw your mussels I was thinking really garlic with mussels, I have a recipe but I think I didn't post yet, I have to search. Happy thanksgiving TW is we not talk, lovely pics:)

Mad Me-Shell said...

Just reading this made me hungry! I put garlic in pretty much everything I cook! I realized this morning I plan to put garlic in almost every one of my Turkey Day dishes! Hope my guests bring their own breath mints!!

Barbara said...

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, TW!
(Word is you're baking pies!)

Fresh Local and Best said...

I still remember your garlic post from last year, and here we are again another year! Congratulations on planting the seeds for will be yet another year of bountiful harvest. The bowl of mussels look delicious!

tasteofbeirut said...

That "sweet smell of garlic" is music to my ears! How I wish I had a garlic filed nearby! I have to hunt for American-produced garlic (mot of the one that is sold is imported from China and is OLD).
I just bought mussels. What a perfect dish with a Sancerre no less. YUM

~~louise~~ said...

Happy Thanksgiving, T.W!

Mary said...

You've managed to make the planting of garlic almost lyrical. The mussels were a perfect way to cap the day. They look and sound delicious and you've made me hungry. I hope your holiday is filled with friends and a board that groans under the weight of food it bears. Have a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

Gloria said...

Happy Thasnksgiving Thomas:)

lostpastremembered said...

with a cold threatening to return I am craving garlic and hot pepper something fierce. those mussels would do me up proud and bring me back to health in a moment. Looks like a wonderful time at the farm... wish I lived nearby.

sophiesfoodiefiles said...

What a lovely day you must have had! I so much love to grow & savour garlic in a lot of my dishes!

A lovely post & thanks for sharing!