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A year to start making up for garlic lost time

GAYS MILLS - Last fall I decided to undertake a venture that I had never indulged in before, growing garlic.

My dad is allergic to garlic, so we never had it in our house. My parents always bought products that were without it, such as spaghetti sauce, ketchup and seasoning blends.

I realized later that I had spent a large portion of my life missing out on the world of flavor. I had no idea what I was missing.

Slowly as I became an adult, I realized that garlic is amazing and should be included in all foods.

We are apparently black sheep in our family when it comes to a lack of garlic consumption. My aunt just told me this weekend that one winter, my grandpa ate so much garlic and it thinned his blood so dramatically, he needed to cease consumption due to a potential medical issue.

So when I decided to grow it, I really wasn’t sure about how to go about it. I knew it involved planting in the fall and covering in hay, but beyond that I wasn’t really sure.

So when someone on Facebook was advertising table and seed garlic for sale or barter, I decided to jump right on the garlic wagon with both feet.

I contacted the young couple selling the garlic, who live outside of Readstown Then, I offered up a trade for some pork that we had from the pigs that we raised.

The woman thoroughly grilled me on what my pigs were fed. When I described their diet of granola bar scraps, organic valley cheese and table scrap compost, she even suspiciously questioned who my hookup was for these scraps before she would deem the trade worthy.

Once I passed that first hurdle, I schlepped my cooler of pig meat to their house for the trade. I borrowed my friends scale and weighed the cuts to her exact request, I met the male counterpart of the garlic growing pair.

He also eyed me suspiciously and repeatedly asked if my pork tasted “swiney” or like a “barnyard” (I felt insulted, I must admit) and weighed the cuts once more.

The whole thing kind of had a feel of a back alley drug deal for a briefcase full of cash. “Is this how all garlic purchases go down?” I thought to myself, kind of put off by the whole situation.

Finally though, I was on my way with my modest sacks of table and seed garlic.

It seemed simple enough as it was described to me as “You just throw it in the ground in the fall and its ready to pick in the spring.”  Thinking this was the case I tossed it in my garden plot and covered it in straw and let it wait.

As spring came nothing really seemed to happen and I grew a little concerned. Did I got a batch of dud garlic? However, eventually green stalks began to appear slowly in both of my planting spots.

I excitedly quizzed other garlic growers on when it would be time to harvest the stuff, and was informed, late July is usually just about right.

I sighed realizing I would not have regular garden room, but rejoiced at the fact I had an excuse this year that wasn’t “I’m just too busy!” – luckily for me, I have lots of gardening friends and a nice farmers market at my disposal.

My most recent discovery about garlic is the scapes. I’ve seen then at the farmers market, but was intimated by them not really knowing what they were. For a long time, I just thought they were an entirely different herb-like thing with an attractive curl.

As ours have shot up, I decided to put my ‘lack of knowledge about anything garlic related shame aside’ and question Chasca’s grandpa about what to do with them. The answer was pretty simple.

“Just chop ‘em up and throw them in the frying pan with whatever you’re frying that day,” he said.

On Sunday, for Father’s Day breakfast, I had planed to make a fancy potato hash scramble concoction with the scapes included. However, Chasca woke up before I started and gave me the skeptical look he gives me when I decide to venture into uncharted cooking territory, and put the big stopper on my plans.

So, I may start modestly with a simple fried potato and scapes side or jump on the worldwide web and see what it suggests.

The real excitement however will be in a few weeks, when I can finally pull the bulbs out of the ground and see if they were truly successful, Then I’ll find out if the garlic that the skeptical people traded me tastes ‘garlicky’ or otherwise.