Thursday, October 23, 2008

Knoblauch is the German word for...

I've decided to try something new this year.

I guess this isn't really big news, since pretty much everything I've done in the last year has been new to me. So, adding to the list of
- Quitting my job
- Selling my house
- Moving to the country
- Buying a dozen chickens
- Becoming a foster mama for a group of donkeys from a national donkey rescue
- Giving penicillin injections to calves
- Plowing a 20 acre field with an discer hooked to an International tractor

I've grow garlic.

I know, another big step, right?
But, I love smells good, it tastes delicious, and it looks pretty when braided. Until about 2 months ago, this was pretty much all that I knew about it.

Since then, I've done a bit of research. Garlic supposedly grows quite well here in Oregon, so the only thing delaying me was where to plant it and what kind to plant.

I found what I thought was the perfect spot for it in an upper garden plot that I hadn't planted anything in this year. It's up against some big rocks, so I hope to use some passive solar heating to my benefit here:

After turning over the dirt and amending it with a bit of compost and chicken manure, I figured it was ready to go:

All I had to do now was obtain my garlic sets. This was harder than I would've thought - none of my local farm/agriculture stores carried them and all the nurseries close to me didn't have any. What's a girl to do?

My pal, Angie, at Children of the Corn, was, as usual, able to help. "Go to your local farmers market", she stated matter of factly. So I did just that and I scored big:

I came home with five different varieties of garlic all grown locally here! Four of my choices are hardneck varieties, the fifth type (the Italian) is a softneck variety - just what I need for my garlic braids!

The next step is to break each of these heads into individual cloves for planting:

It's important to select the largest and healthiest looking cloves to plant and then plant the cloves pointy side up and about 1 to 3" deep in the soil:

Now that I've found my garlic and see how many individual cloves I've got, I'm clearly going to need a bigger patch of ground!:

Wouldn't it be fun to have my garlic garden ultimately look like this? (not my garden):

Do you have any obsessive personalities in your life? If not, you do now. Me. Those five varieties of garlic weren't enough for me, apparently. When I happened upon a local nursery yesterday afternoon and saw they not only actually had garlic sets but even some new varieties that I hadn't seen yet, I just HAD to get a few more:

The Nootka Rose is a Northwest Heirloom variety of garlic and another softneck variety (more braids, yay!):

The Inchelium Red is labeled as an "Artichoke Garlic". I'm not really sure what that means, but it is another softneck variety that has won taste tests, has a bit of "hot" to its flavor and stores very well:

And, being the good half-German that I am, I needed the German Porcelain variety. It supposedly does well in any environment, which if all the others fail, may be the only type I wind up successfully harvesting:

Of course, I will be diligently charting how each variety does, how much I harvest, and which ones taste the best - similar to my egg counting/weighing nerdliness that I have been engaged in since early July.

So, keep your fingers crossed that by next September, not only will we be making the most incredibly delectable garlic dishes, I may also have a few of these hanging around:

After that, I can work my way up to making these!:

Ja, es stimmt: Knoblauch macht Spass!


  1. Your enthusiasm makes me smile and is contagious Danni.

    I grow garlic every year. It's an easy to grow crop and does very well in the mountains. It's not really picky about its soil and goes through the winter very well. The first year I planted garlic bought expensive seed garlic from a seed supplier. It didn't do very well. After that I went to the market just like you went to the farmer's market and bought 5 heads of California white garlic, very inespensive, separated them into the "toes" keeping the "paper" on each toe and planted them pointy side up about 1 inch below the surface, just like you said. They grew fabulously well!

    Each year I plant the garlic in Oct/Nov and it's ready to dig up in early June around here. I usually plant it in between the rows where I plan to plant my Spring lettuce seeds. It helps to keep the bugs away from the lettuce with its scent. I wash and hang my garlic in braids and keep it in my kitchen where it is handy when cooking. I save a couple of heads to use for planting the next season's crop.

    I have found that each year the garlic gets better and better planting the homegrown heads/toes from the previous season. I think the plants adapt to the local soil and weather conditions and just get better year to year.

    This year I shopped at our local organic farmer's market and chose several garlic varieties to plant. Thanks for reminding me to get out there and plant them, but then, it's still 80 degrees here today. :)

    Sorry to be so wordy. Garlic excites me!

  2. I got so excited telling my story about garlic, that I forgot to ask you what the English translation is for "Ja, es stimmt: Knoblauch macht Spass!" I get "Ja" and "macht" and "Knoblauch", but after that my high school German teaching from 30 years ago fails me. So what's it mean?

  3. WAY COOL!! I love garlic to eat as well as braids hanging on the wall (as well as chilis!). That wreath is gorgeous! Hmmmmm obsessive.....would starting out with one Shetland sheep and winding up with 11 in six months time count??? :) I would love to try to grow garlic and can't wait to hear how you progress!

  4. Growing garlic was a first for us last year. I just picked up 3 different varieties. I can't imagine keeping track of all the ones you have, I'm not that organized. I tried braiding some this July and that was a scary sight, looked nothing like your sweet pictures.
    Happy gardening!

  5. Well we know you will be safe from all the vampires of the world! You grow girl...can't wait to see your first crop! Maybe I'll get me some to grow too!

  6. Yum. I can smell it now....oh wait that's my breath. I spent all day sneaking back into the staff room to eat another cracker with pumpkin garlic dip on it.
    I can't wait to see the braids next year!
    My word verification is happlic. Like happy garlic!

  7. I'm going to plant garlic for the first time this year once we get moved. Softneck is good for braiding? What is the hardneck variety good for?

  8. Okay.....garlic gets harvested in what? June, July? Thats plenty of time for you to invest in a lovely, new garlic press. As pretty as yours is....Im just not sure its up for all that garlic. What? Dont believe me? Go ask your ma.

    I love that you got so many varieties. I cant wait to hear all about them....all the details. Shawn's grandpa gave us some garlic out of his yard that had been planted there by his mother....a very long time ago. It was very tasty.

  9. Mmmm, Garlic, I love, love, love it! Hmmm, now you've got me thinking Danni! I'll have to look around this weekend and see what kind of garlic I can find.

  10. No respectable vampire will get anywhere near your farm this year.

    I had no idea there were so many different varieties of garlic. Amazing! Isn't there an "elephant" garlic that's really huge?

    Have fun! Let us know how thy garlic grows.

  11. My 18 yo son and I just planted garlic on Sunday. I bought 1# of Purple Glazier from Territorial Seeds ($17.95/#) - YIKES! I am never doing that again. I will do the Farmer's Mkt thing too. I have some beautiful organic garlic from last week's Farmer's Mkt in Beaverton. It has big pretty cloves. I will plant them now that I know it will work.
    Oh and for the record, I am an equal opportunity garlic planter...I plant all cloves big and small. I have no space shortage, so why not. Even small garlic tastes yummy. I also make garlic scape pesto from the scapes in early Summer. We make this green risotto with it that is so so so so good.
    *sigh* Is it summer yet? :o) hehe

  12. I'm glad you found some garlic to plant! I can't wait to see your braids next year!

  13. Oy. You have actual DIRT! No rocks! What's up with that? At any rate, if you make those neat braids you can be sure not to encounter any Children of the Goatula.

  14. OK Dorothy, translate before I go Hungarian all over you!!!

    did you plant some in your original pre-planed location?

    Oh, btw how are the donks treating that chicken wire wrapped tree?

  15. Yes, that's right, garlic is fun! Hope this helps!

  16. First, I love you blog. I especially love reading about the donkeys. We live in Maine and have 55 acres. How did you get involved with donkey rescue? Do you know of anyone in Maine that would like some help? We have plenty of room and love donkeys. Why not donkey rescue?

  17. Guten Abend!
    We are also planting garlic for the first time this year. Do you have to buy special garlic to plant? I just bought heads at New Seasons. That would be so disappointing if they didn't come up.

  18. Whoohoo! Go danni! I'm so happy to help contribute to your dysfunction! ;)

  19. We expanded our garlic planting this fall too. You can never have too much in my opinion. We planted 3 known varieties and one variety that we were given. Anyhow, it is wonderful and so much better than grocery store stuff (though, you can often grow your own from stuff you get at the grocery store...sometimes it is sprayed to prevent growth, other times not). Anyhow, you were good to get it locally as a lot o finternet places sell out very early. Save your own from now on and you'll never be in need!

  20. I don't speak German but I think I know what that says,

    Ja, es stimmit: Knoblauch macht Spass!

    Just a minute: I'm a garlic spaz!

    That is a lot of garlic my friend.

  21. I just need to say that sugarcreekstuff...just now, you almost made me spit sweet tea all over myself with that comment. Too damn funny.....

  22. Ja, es stimmt: Knoblauch macht Spass!
    Translation: Yes, it's true: Garlic is fun! :-)

    Hiiiii farmer jen - excellent - now when i have sudden and bizarre "growing garlic on the west coast" questions, I know exactly where to go!! Ooops...too bad about the "paper on the toes" you can see in my picture, I did not do that. :-) Now watch nuttin' grow! LOL

    Hi wrensong - oooh I had forgotten about chili braids....maybe next year! And in answer to your question....Why yes, 11 sheep in 6 months is a tad obsessive in my mind. No wonder we're pals. LOL

    Hey country girl - Like so much in this world, practice makes perfect, I hear. Keep at those garlic braids, I'm sure next year's will look much better than this year's!

    Hi eve - yes, I shall be safe from all vampires and....everybody who doesn't like garlic. :-)
    Yes - you should grow some, too. Then we'll have people chiming in from all over the country on what grows well where they are and we can all try our hands at garlic braids together! :-)

    Hey goatgirl - Happlic! I love it. Almost as much as I love garlic. Note to self - if you and I ever meet, I'll make sure to bring a garlic dip. :-)

    Hi christy - yes, the softneck variety is used for braiding. It's also what you will typically find in the supermarket because it's easiest to grow and has the longest shelf life. The hardneck types have a "scape" or stalk, which coils out from the top and needs to be cut back in spring to promote larger clove growth. The scapes are edible and, I hear, quite yummy. Hardneck varieties have fewer but larger cloves than the softneck varieties.

    Hi frugalmom - Jim laughed so loud when he read your garlic press comment. I, on the other hand, didn't think it was that funny. :-)
    And regarding your FIL's garlic, I've heard that homegrown garlic tastes better and better every year because you're always selecting your best stock to plant back in the ground again!

    Hey mim!! Do it! Plant some garlic. It'll be fun to compare notes!

    Hi farmlady - yes, elephant garlic is quite large and, because of this, many people think it will have the strongest flavor, too. However, quite the opposite is true - it's very, very mild. Since I'm kind of a spicy gal (hee hee), I rarely buy the elephant garlic for that reason.

    Hi heather - WOW - that's a lot of money for a pound of garlic. Did you choose the purple glazer for a specific reason? How many cloves did you put in the ground? Garlic scape pesto? Oh my.... will you please send me the recipe for this? Puhleeze?!!!

    Hey nw nature nut - Thanks - I'm very excited, too!

    Hi marigold - now why do you think my garlic-planting motivation is so strong? I'm absolutely TERRIFIED of Goatula playing me a visit!

    Dear greywolf - And just what, pray tell, does it mean to "go Hungarian" on someone? I definitely need to know before I answer you, as if it's something I would like, I don't want to spoil my chances of getting something good. :-)
    (and "yes", to the pre-selected site and "just fine" to the wire wrapped tree)

    Hi anna alley - thanks for commenting! Und ich finde es klasse, dass Du deutsch sprichst!

    Hey kelly OR alex - I loved your comment so much! Peaceful Valley is always on the look out for people to open new satellite adoption centers and their longterm goal is to have at least one in every state! Go to and click on "becoming a satellite adoption center" for all the details. And don't hesitate to contact me if you have any other questions! :-)

    Guten Tag pyryt nest!! So, this is one of the things I'll be testing this year....does one really have to buy "special" garlic to plant. I've heard that the chain grocery stores (or the farmers supplying them) will spray their garlic with a retardent to prevent it from sprouting, but if you're buying from New Seasons, I would think it would probably be fine. Especially if it's organic. You could ask, though, to make sure. But I've got both now - farmer's market garlic and nursery garlic sets so I'll be in a great position to judge!

    Hi farm mom - what would I do with you??!!

    The warren! Nice to see you. :-) Now we are siblings in garlic growing - how fun. I wish there was an easy way to determine whether or not store-bought garlic has been sprayed - aside from being unable to sprout it in your garden, it seems like there might be some health implications there, too, don't you think? Jeez, the things I've never thought about before!

    Hi sugarcreekstuff - My exciting and informative language class, "Deutsch with Dancing Danni" begins this fall. Please be sure to sign up.

    Frugalmom - Don't humor her. She's going to start rapping here again in a second. And please don't swear. You know how I hate swearing. :-)

  23. Danni you crack me up. I would never even imagine that it mattered what kind of garlic I put in the ground. I just grab what I can and dig a hole and throw it in. We have way way more than we can use each year. Beats me what kind it is though.

    You know the old saying "If you plant me they will come" meaning all the italians, germans and anyone else who is a garlic lover. If you plant all those all of your blogger friends need to come to your house and have a garlic party.

  24. Too cool. I decided to plan garlic this year too. I can't wait for harvest next fall. I have no idea what variety mine is. It's what I got at the local farmer's market that was grown locally.

  25. I never thought of even planting my own garlic, and it seems too easy! Good luck with it! And so many varieties from which to choose!

    I'd love to sent Ken's sourdough cinnamon rolls . . . where do I send it? I couldn't find, for the life of me, an email address. I'm at . . . I don't think my email address is on my blog either, now that I think about it.

  26. Dear Danni: If you have never seen an irate Hungarian then you are truly lucky. However I was refering to using my vast (Ha)Hungarian phrasology (most of which is swear word and curses)to match your fluent German.
    Sadly I could not get my mother to teach me Hungarian, so I only learned the words and phrases that my Aunt Mary and my Mom used on us kids. The swear words and curses I later learned to from an old Hungarian co-worker. One of which I wish I never learned when I asked my mother what it meant and she knocked me out of my chair.
    It was the only time I can remember my mother hitting me.

  27. Greywolf's comment reminds me of my own experience having Greek relatives on my Mom's side of the family. I never learned to speak Greek except for the swear words and the names of Greek foods! Made me smile to read that.

  28. Hi egghead - You didn't think it mattered what kind of garlic you planted (she says with great big eyes!!)???? You mean, you don't think everything to DEATH before doing it? Gee, I wonder what this must be like. :-)
    A garlic party, huh? I definitely like the way you think!

    Hi chicken momma - farmer's markets are an amazing resource. I'm hooked! You'll have to tell me how your garlic turns out!

    Hi californiagrammy - Thanks for the recipe and the info on the starter - I had no idea sourdough starter could be DRIED!!!

    Egad, greywolf, that doesn't sound like fun at all. I guess I don't want you to go Hungarian on me. See my very first comment response. Translation is at the top. :-) Sorry you got smacked. That'll take the joy out of learning a foreign language, won't it?
    I was in Hungary once, in Balatonfuered on Lake Balaton - beautiful place, BEAUTIFUL country!

    Hey farmer jen - do you have any Greek swear words you'd like to share with us? I promise you won't get smacked....

  29. Danni, I learned more about garlic in 5 minutes of reading your blog than I have during a lifetime of eating the stuff. Fascinating. Thanks for the education. Can't wait for updates on the garlic growing project.

    Blather From Brooklyn

  30. You grow, girl!

    I just don't have time to make a garlic bed before snow flies here in Michigan...still waiting for the rototilling neighbor to come and dig me a real garden plot before that happens...but if I did have the plot ready I'd be planting hardnecked garlic -- German and Russian varieties. I think their flavor is superior; and they do better here in the Upper Midwest.

  31. I planted garlic for the first time this year too! I don't even know what variety it was---I just picked up some organic ones at my local grocery story. The folks at my local plant nursery said to be sure to get ones that hadn't been sprayed with a growth retardant.

    Anyway, they'll all sprouted. We'll see how I make out next spring. Good luck finding little places to plant all your different varieties!

  32. I KNEW there was a reason I liked you! Obsessive Personalities Unite! I love garlic too, although I have to limit my consumption because I work with the public.

    Actually there are lots of reasons why I like you. This one's just the cherry on top. :o)

  33. Hm. I know it has to be planted in the winter...and Clint IS picking up a brand new tiller for our brand new (mini) tractor on Monday. Wonder what the odds are that I'll be able to strong-arm him into tilling up a garlic patch next week, so I can get started too?

    By the way, I've renamed Nootka Rose as Nookie Rose. That how it comes out in my head.

  34. Knoblauch macht Spass.... und schmeckt gut!!
    (you are something!!)


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