Monday, August 11, 2014

Farm Talk: The Garlic Story

I fell in love with growing garlic during 2000 --- my first year of farming. Like everyone else, I was a little stunned to learn there are so many different varieties of garlic. Five years later, The Cutting Veg launched The Global Garlic Project in order to promote seed diversity, enrich the taste of our food, to cultivate health and wellness in the community, and because it is so darn fun to grow and cook with so many different types of garlic! For several years, there was no distribution --- just growing the volume of seed stock by planting, harvesting, and replanting. We started with 10 bulbs each of 10 different varieties: Persian, Thai, Tibetan, Korean, Italian, Sicilian, Ukrainian, Russian, Former Yugoslavia, and Salt Spring Island. Over the years we grew from 100 bulbs to 600 to 1500 to 4000 to 15000 to 21000 to 27000 up to maximum of 45,000 bulbs. From 100 to 45000 bulbs in 6 years! Over the last couple of years we have scaled back a little. We were getting too many small bulbs, and so the emphasis switched from quantity of harvest to size of bulbs. To this end, we started planting cloves from large bulbs exclusively. This brings us to the 2014 crop, which is by far the best crop in the nine years of The Global Garlic Project. Last week we harvested 26,000 bulbs. It's taken nine years, but we've finally got the crop where I hoped it to be. Very few smalls. Simply gorgeous jumbo, large, and medium bulbs. Best crop ever!

Over the years we have lost a few varieties (we miss you Tibetan and Thai), and added several new ones. Argentinean, Japanese, Romanian, Siberian, Polish, Northern Quebec, Rose de Lautrec (French) --- each of these are being grown in increasing volume each year, and will be available in coming seasons. In the meantime, I invite you to make yourself a part of The Garlic Story by learning about the unique varieties, delighting in the different flavours, and growing some for yourself!

For more info about the various varieties, and their unique qualities, please visit

If you are interested in growing your own garlic, check out the following link for basic growing instructions:

For garlic sampling recipes (to get to know the various varieties), check out

If you would like to place an order, please do so at

What's the difference between all the different types of garlic?

Some are hot and spicy (Ukrainian, Persian), some are mild (Russian, Italian), some are sweet (Former Yugoslavia). Some varieties have many cloves per bulb (Sicilian can have up to 16), while others, like the Russian, can have 2 or 3 huge cloves. Some tend to be very large (Northern Quebec), some tend to be smaller (Rose de Lautrec). Colours and shape vary as well. More info here:

Testing Raw Garlic: Garlic Dipping Sauce

When having a tasting session, make a generous amount of the basic sauce. Then the only differences in flavour are from the differences in the varieties of garlic. The proportions of yogurt and mayonnaise may be varied.

For the basic sauce combine:

1/2 cup plain yogurt (or soy yogurt)
1/2 cup mayonnaise (or mustard)
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
Divide the base into as many dishes as you have garlic varieties you want to compare. To each dish add enough crushed garlic of one variety to get a good but not overpowering garlic taste and label the dish with the variety name. Dip raw or steamed veggies in the sauces.