My Garlic Adventure

by Michelle on August 15, 2009

On Friday I went to, We Grow Garlic, a farm in Wisconsin and hopefully bought a year’s worth of garlic! I know that you’re thinking “I did not know you could grow garlic in Wisconsin”. Well, I wondered about that too. I’m not sure if it’s the climate, the soil or maybe the loving hands of the garlic farmers, Karen and Mike, but this is the best darn garlic I’ve ever had in my life!

I placed my first order for Wisconsin garlic last year and was so excited when it finally arrived. Who knew that so many varieties of garlic even existed and that each would be so unique! We are serious garlic lovers and in 2008 I ordered twelve different varieties and took notes on each one for reference.

When the 2009 growing season began I kept a close eye on the We Grow Garlic website and placed my order as soon as the crop was harvested in July. Last year I had my order shipped but this year I wanted to drive up and see the farm myself. I was so excited when we finally found the farm and it was exactly how Karen had described gray house with a red barn. Good thing the house was gray because all the barns in Wisconsin are red! The farm is located in an absolutely gorgeous area just outside Madison and we had no problem finding it.

Mike and Karen were both there to greet us and then Mike gave my husband and I a guided tour of their farm. I was thrilled! First we went into the vintage Corn Crib which they use to dry and then display the garlic varieties. One thing led to another and Mike and I discussed drying techniques, barn architecture, barn fans, air circulation and fertilizers with both of us agreeing that horse manure is the very best! It’s so much fun talking shop with a hands-on farmer.

Dryingbarn1


garlic1


bincloseup


garlic bins collage



Then Mike took us on his ATV and we went out to their garlic fields. Garlic is planted in October and harvested in July so the fields have a short 2-3 month rest before being planted again. Isn’t the landscape gorgeous! And look at that Wisconsin sky!

field2-2


field1



Next Mike took us into the large horse barn where next year’s garlic seed crop was drying and we met the horses and the little pony. My husband enjoyed petting and fussing with the horses.

Horsebarn1


seedcrop2


horses1


Horses collage



It was a wonderful day! I saw my first garlic farm, made some new friends, spent the entire day with my husband and hopefully bought enough garlic to last until this time next year!

garlicstash2



I’ve already had several questions on twitter about storing garlic to avoid sprouting. The amount of time garlic will last depends on a number of factors including the garlic variety, its age and how it was handled during harvesting. The key to storing properly handled fresh garlic is a cool area with low humidity, good air circulation and little to no light. Do not store garlic in the refrigerator nor immersed in oil!

When Karen and Mike organize an order each variety of garlic is divided into small mesh bags and labeled. I put all the small bags into a large mesh onion bag with a drawstring closure. I hang the large mesh bag behind the door of my basement laundry room which has no windows. And whenever I do laundry I do turn on the exhaust fan for an hour to dry out the room of any humidity. I had little problem with the Wisconsin garlic sprouting even though I stored it almost a year after harvest.


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Comments

  • Melissa Clifford August 15, 2009 at 11:22 am

    That looks like a great adventure! I really want to visit there now. I’m going to go check out their website.

  • Debbie August 15, 2009 at 8:19 pm

    Wow! I’m so impressed. We are sharing our favorite Elvis stories over at diningwithdebbie.blogspot.com. I hope you will come and share yours. Mister Linky will be up Tuesday for Crock Pot Wednesday entries.

  • jillbert August 15, 2009 at 10:39 pm

    Hi Michelle – This was so funny to see because Mike is my sister-in-law’s brother (got that?). I knew they grew garlic but I had never looked at their web site before. Their farm looks awesome!

  • Lori E August 15, 2009 at 11:39 pm

    I always think I have enough garlic for a year but I never do. We go through a minimum of one clove per day. Usually between lunch and dinner about 3. My son uses my ceramic ginger grater and pulverizes a clove to put on his flat bread, or pizza or in salsa almost every day.
    We like everything spicy so I favor the Racy variety.
    Isn’t it always nice to go to the source and see where your food comes from.

  • cookingschoolconfidential.com August 16, 2009 at 12:28 am

    Look at all that gorgeous garlic!

    Garlic is one of my must-have-in-the-house staples, along with lemons and shallots and so on.

    I loved it before culinary school, but now I have a much finer appreciation for all the ways you can use it. Great stuff.

    Cheers!

  • Kate August 16, 2009 at 5:27 am

    Great adventure! I have never visited a garlic farm….How fun!

  • Amy August 16, 2009 at 5:29 am

    I adore garlic but had absolutely no idea there was various types!! It just says Garlic at the stores..but then again this is Norway, I guess I should be grateful we have garlic…what would the world be like without garlic!!! It’s times like these I miss living in the states…wish we had garlic farms here…huff…thanks for sharing your garlic adventure- this was neat!!

  • Kat August 16, 2009 at 1:25 pm

    I really enjoyed your story of the Garlic Farm. It is a beautiful far and it was very nice of the owners to do all that for you!
    My grandmother’s house always smelled like garlic, that may be why she lived to be nearly 102!!

  • Natashya KitchenPuppies August 16, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    What a great adventure! I love, love, love garlic.

  • Bungalow Barbara August 16, 2009 at 9:51 pm

    Thanks for a lovely post! I live just west of Madison. We grow most of our own garlic in our garden. It does indeed grow wonderfully in Wisconsin!

    I am looking to try some new varieties, so thank you for the link to the We Grow Garlic site.

  • Kayte August 16, 2009 at 10:18 pm

    What a great time…yes, I loved the Wisconsin scenery and sky…looks a lot like NE Iowa! Garic looks wonderful, how fun to get to try the different kinds!

  • glamah16 August 17, 2009 at 6:29 pm

    I wish I could have made it out there with you. Cant wait for mine!

  • kanmuri August 18, 2009 at 5:12 am

    That sounds like a lot of fun. We love garlic at home, too. Unfortunately, in Japan the humidity level is so high that we can’t prevent garlic from sprouting, no matter what we do!

  • heather January 11, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    Yet another reason to miss my home state! We grew garlic for a couple years in southeastern Wisconsin, and the other years we’d buy bunches at the Dane County Farmers Market like those you have pictured hanging in the barn. Looks like an amazing visit — was not familiar with We Grow Garlic. My fiancé’s and my family still live there, so we’ll have to let them in on the secret. Have you ever been to the Dane Co. Farmers Market? Bet you’d love it!

    Cheers,

    *Heather*

  • […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Michelle Safirstein, Brenner Brewing Co. and Debbi Miner. Debbi Miner said: What fun! WI is always full of surprises! RT @BrennerBeer: Tour of a Wisconsin Garlic Farm- http://bit.ly/eUjDHV […]

  • foodies at home January 19, 2011 at 11:45 pm

    What a fun experience! You never really think of where garlic comes from. Great photos!

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