Last week we took off for a week in Maine (Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park). It was a Sunday to Sunday trip so I missed a few Harvest Mondays and indeed, had nothing to show anyway. In a way the timing was fortunate, since I got to visit the 16th annual MDI Garlic Festival in Southwest Harbor. The festival included a farmers’ market, a number of garlic vendors, food vendors, live music, and a canine agility course. We sampled the beef brisket, the pulled pork, the chili, and a roasted garlic brownie (that the wife pronounced to be horrible).
The first garlic vendor I encountered was Goosefooté Garlic from Irasburg, Vermont. They are way up in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, off I-91 just south of the Canadian border. It was quite a drive for them to get to MDI but I am glad they came. They had a mountain of garlic piled on a table, all of it just one variety, German Red. It is a Rocambole garlic from Germany discovered on an old farm in Idaho. The bulbs were huge, with just four cloves per 2-3 ounce head. I was hooked immediately and picked out four of the largest heads for planting this fall. The largest head I purchased weighed 2.9 ounces.This is apparently how Margaret buys her seed garlic, from garlic festivals, and it is indeed nice to be able to look at the various varieties, talk to the growers about them, and then pick out your own heads. And for less than a third the price of mail order garlic.
When we got home, I found another surprise in my mail box – the Duganski garlic I ordered from Territorial. I bought Spanish Roja garlic from them last year and was pleased with both the seed garlic I received and the heads I grew this year. They were by far my most successful garlic in a weird garlic season. I am not so sure I am pleased with the Duganski seed garlic I received. I ordered a little late, so maybe I got the bottom of the barrel.
Duganski is a marble purple stripe garlic from Kazakhstan with large bulbs and an initial fiery flavor and a mellow aftertaste. It produces large bulbs that are supposed to keep fairly well for a hard neck. The seed garlic I received looks like it was dug too late. The necks are curved and it almost looks like the garlic foliage was starting to fall over. The cloves are starting to separate and the wrappers are loose. You can even see on some of the cloves that the skins are cracked and the clove is exposed. Does the grower of this stuff actually know how to grow garlic? Heads like this will not keep very long. I’m hoping it holds until planting time in late October.
With the acquisition of these two new garlics, I decided not to bother trying to acclimate the Sulmona and Viola Francese garlics to my garden and they are now in the dehydrator, all of them. They will be replaced with the two new garlics, and I will be replanting the German Extra Hardy, Red Chesnok, and Spanish Roja for a total of five garlics again. The Farmer’s Almanac is predicting a cold, snowy winter for New England so we will see how these different garlics perform.