The Garlic Game: Summer CSA ’13 ” Week #6

 In CSA Newsletter

Not for lack of effort, our garlic planting this year is a near failure.  In October, we planted close to 27,000 cloves of garlic.  Our 2013 total harvest yield is somewhere around 4500 bulbs.  Do the math and that equates to about a 83% crop loss.  If one does a few more calculations, it means that after we save the bulbs we’ll need as seed for the  2014 crop, it means we will only have enough garlic to give you each 2 bulbs total.

Why the depressing math?  A harsh winter, with many thaws and refreezes. Garlic is a special crop. We plant it in the fall. It is meant to overwinter.  A cold winter alone won’t bother the seed. But this past year we had a warm early winter. This sort of keeps the cloves “awake” a bit. Then when had some really deep cold, followed by thawing, and oh yes… that 1 inch of water in February that turned to ice.  Then we had some warmer times… the garlic all started to emerge earlier than normal. But then this was followed by a particularly cold, wet spring. All these weather factors led to a dismal year for garlic. We’ve heard that many other farms in the area experienced these same problems. Like I said, not for a lack of trying.

Last week, as we harvested our tiny little crop, I didn’t feel all that heart broken. It’s not that I don’t love garlic and want to give you all lots and lots of it, because I do! But we can’t get our hearts set too much on any one crop, because you just never know what the skies will bring.  Instead of sadness, I actually just kept thinking of the song they play on the Price is Right when you lose. You know the one…. (and in case you can’t remember, click here to hear it).

Farming, like any good game show or card or board game, is a mixture of skill and luck.  One’s skill can take you very far, but it is always tempered with luck. There’s always a figurative wheel to spin, card to pick, dice to roll. We planted our garlic seed in fertile, healthy soil.  We planted at the right time, to the correct depth. We planted the biggest and best seed from our 2012 harvest. We cultivated to keep the weeds down. But then we had to spin the weather wheel.  No matter our skill, there wasn’t anything we could do to save the crop.

While looking at our garlic crop elicits a frown, it’s hard not to smile when we look at our onion crop in the field. It’s looking like we may have one of the best onion yields we’ve ever had this year.  (And this is after having a tough year with them last year due to the drought.) So it’s not all bad. Perhaps you’ll just see a lot of shallots in your box this year instead of garlic.  That’s the beauty of planting a large diversity of crops on the farm; it’s always a bad year for some things, and a great year for others. Pick a card… any card.

Thanks and enjoy your vegetables! Sincerely, the Noltnerwyss family

In the Box:

  • Broccoli
  • Cucumber
  • Lettuce, Red Summercrisp
  • Parsley, Italian Flat Leaf
  • Purplette Onions
  • Sugar Snap Peas
  • Snow Peas
  • Zucchini

REGs Only:

  • Chard, Rainbow Swiss
  • Green Beans

EOs Only:

  • Green Bell Pepper
  • Kale, Red Russian


Summer CSA Week #6: Wednesday, July 17th ” REGs & Group B -EOs