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Welcome Back Garlic!

jan09_frosty-greenman1Welcome back New Garlic Shoots! Welcome back Garlic Lovers!

Hmmm…I seem to have figured how to get my pictures back up on my posts, although not necessarily where I want them. After my recent WordPress upgrade, I have had a few problems. Hopefully this will be fixed soon, but in the meantime, please put up with this amateur hacker!

jan09_garlic-beds_light-snow1Brrr! It is frosty outside! As you know, January and February can be a real mixture of weather, and here in the Pacific Northwest, we are no exception. The rain and snow this year for us were a statistician’s dream. Even without extremes, storms regularly blow in off the west coast with winds strong enough to break trees, while other afternoons can be deceivingly warm with the promise of spring. Then the nights freeze solid again, glare ice coats the roadways, and thick frost ices every nook and crevice.

feb09_garlic-shoots1It might be a time for us to hunker down inside, but things are happening in the backyard garlic patch! Tender garlic shoots are bravely poking through the soil. Trust me on this. Look closely. I DO SEE GREEN!!!

They seem so exposed – so vulnerable. I did not mulch. There is no snow cover for protection….

I encourage them to be strong.

Stay tuned….

And in the meantime, I have had several discussions with fellow gardeners over the past few weeks about mulching, watering, the bed/no-bed dilemma, irrigation, building the soil, which varieties of garlic are best, other good crops, and an assortment of innovative gardening ideas. I will be posting on these in the near future as the growing season kicks in.

Thanks for visiting my site – and please come back – come back often! And I sure hope I can get this little snafu fixed!


Garlic is Harvested and Curing!

Hooray! The garlic is harvested and is now 2 weeks into the curing process.

What do 1300 bulbs of hanging garlic look like?

Granted, by some standards, that is not a lot. But for me – and for many who buy a few bulbs now and then – it’s like, wow – over one thousand bulbs!

How to describe what it is like to step into a small room, surrounded by hanging garlic, and inhale the dense pungent aroma …

It makes you slip into visions of roasted bulbs, garlic bread, rich sauces, stir fries, pestos, tapenades ….

It’s enough to make one swoon ….

Do we have to wait?


Indulge NOW!

Garlic Scape Hummus

I promised you all my favorite hummus recipe. But first, I’d like to know how a bunch of smashed chick peas mixed with a little this and that, and a name that sounds like something related to compost, has become such an exotic dish among pseudo yuppies like myself.


Ok – I have a confession. I don’t really have a “favorite” hummus recipe. I make it different every time. But see, that’s the beauty of it. Here’s how I made it the other day – and everyone woofed it:

Put in a blender or otherwise chop, smash, and blend:

  • 2 cans of chickpeas or garbanzo beans, same thing, drained – save the juice. Usually I cook my own, but this day I was in a hurry. Despite my raving about garlic, garbanzos are really what make hummus hummus – but you could also use another kind of bean if you don’t have them on hand.
  • Garlic scapes – about a dozen or more – personally, I just can’t get enough of these curly things
  • 3 T olive oil – (low-fat variations could use less)
  • 1/3 c lemon juice or a couple of squeezed lemons
  • 1/3 c sesame seed (I would have used more but I ran out) – if you don’t have a blender, Tahini, which is essentially sesame seed already blended with olive oil – is a good choice. If you use Tahini, be cautious with the oil.
  • 1 c or so of parsley, smashed down – I grow a lot of this, and at this point, this recipe is sounding a lot like the pesto one, only with added beans instead of walnuts
  • Maybe a little salt – don’t really need it with the lemon juice

Chop it, blend it, or whatever you need to do to make this a relatively smooth paste. Add back in about 1/4 cup of the drained bean juice if it looks too thick.

This hummus version is very green. People won’t know it’s hummus, which they think of as being kind of tan and something they’d maybe rather not describe. Yes – it’s very garlicky and very lemony. It’s also heavy on parsley. I love all these things.

Hummus is wonderful. Think of the many things you can do with this stuff! Here are some ideas:

  • spread it on bread (better than butter!), pita bread, fresh crackers, tortilla chips
  • dunk veggies in it, such as carrots, celery, broccoli – or whatever you have
  • mellow it out with another can of beans
  • spice it up with a little cayenne – or maybe some oregano or cumin, a little pepper
  • use black beans instead of chickpeas
  • leave out the sesame seeds if you don’t have any – don’t worry, it still works!
  • add a couple scoops of peanut butter (some people like anything if it has peanut butter in it, my husband, included)
  • make it more tangy with a couple of scoops of yogurt
  • use lime juice instead of lemon
  • add different vegetables to it – roasted peppers, spinach, sun dried tomatoes? mmmm….
  • garnish it with parsley & paprika
  • sculpt with it (the idea here is get creative!)

This humble dish is one of the oldest known to man – and you can see why – it can be whatever you like or whatever you have or a mixture of all you have and like. It’s wonderful. It’s eaten daily all over the Arab world, and many other cultures have a version they call their own. In fact, it’s known to have been around 5000 years before Christ! Now that’s amazing. My guess is that it helped the Egyptians build the pyramids. Just think what YOU can do with it!

Plus, it’s full of protein, iron, vitamin C, fiber, and more, depending on how it’s made.

I figure that anything that looks like a glob but gets your kids to eat beans, whole-grain crackers, and vegetables must be a good thing.


Garlic Scape Recipes: Pesto

A Celtic knot of garlic scapesI have been asked – no – begged – to reveal my soon-to-be-famous recipes for pesto and hummus using fresh garlic scapes. Ok. I bend to peer pressure. But not without this warning:


And to lure you into my web, I also offer a recipe for homemade crackers to go with them.

Go ahead…try these…don’t let anyone see you…scoop them into small bowls and go off to your happy place…we’ll see you in a few days. I tantalize you first with the pesto. You have to come back for the hummus and crackers.


First, a caveat: the problem with this recipe – or maybe it’s me – is that nothing is really measured and substitutions are made freely, depending on what you have on hand. If you are a freestyle cook, you understand this mentality. There are a few things you must have, namely, garlic and olive oil, or it simply isn’t pesto. Personally, I grow a lot of basil and several varieties, but I am not terribly fond of it in pesto (I know, this is blasphemy to my Sicilian heritage), because most recipes ask for a lot of it and it is too overpowering. Now the garlic – I grow lots – I use lots – it is incredibly overpowering – and if you are a true garlic lover, that is just how it should be. Ok – the recipe:

1 doz. garlic scapes
1 cup, more or less, of parsley (I grow a lot of this, too – it balances well with garlic and is available most of the year)
1 1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 – 1 tsp sea salt (you don’t need much)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice

Chop, blend, or whatever you need to do to make it smooth. Yes, you can add Parmesan if you have it – or if you have pine nuts, those are great – and of course, you can totally change the taste with aromatic fresh basils, but I don’t always have those things, and the craving must be fed, regardless. What kind of recipe is this, you ask? Ok, not really a recipe, more like a guideline.

But now that you’ve made it, you must face your ethical dilemma: go hide or go share. Your choice. I won’t tell.

Garlic Status – Summer Solstice ’08

Garlic Status_Summer Solstice 2008

Despite the cold spring here in the Pacific Northwest, the garlic has been thriving! We got everything weeded over the weekend and thoroughly watered. You can almost feel them reaching upward, waiting for that promised sunshine!

As you can see from the photos, I planted the garlic rather densely in beds (4 rows/bed) this year, which has really facilitated the weeding, fertilizing, & watering tasks! The picture in the lower right quadrant shows 2 plots in the background that were recently tilled under — I had grown a green manure crop of a combination of clover, vetch, and ryegrass; I will be planting them again soon with more of the same; these will be garlic beds for next year and 2010. Yes, those are the Olympic Mountains in the background. Gorgeous morning!

Also pictured are the tall spikes, often called “spears” of the elephant garlic. The hardneck varieties send smaller shoots, called “scapes”; pictured are the tight-curling scapes of the rocambole hardnecks. I have been cutting these off (yes! you can have some if you are in the neighborhood!) and using them in pestos, salad dressings, & stir fries. They also add an unusual touch to floral arrangements. I am making some garlic hummus to bring to a barbecue this weekend, and am thinking about how the scapes might be quite beautiful pickled in a jar! Mmm!

I figure bulb harvesting is about a month or so away (a little late this year). I may get one more watering in, but will stop the water after that, which will help prevent molds and extend the shelf-life of the bulbs.

We might hit 70 today when the official summer starts at 4:30 today! That is welcome news for those of us who have been wearing sweatshirts all spring! Celebrate the solstice!

Rain! Rain! Rain!

If you live in the Pacific Northwest, you know we’re still waiting for this season called spring and it’s almost summer! The cold temps have delayed most crops – but I have to say, the lettuce, spinach, peas, mustards, parsley, potatoes, rhubarb, and garlic are thriving! (And so are the weeds!)

Garlic scapes are a little slow this year, but I see elephant spears are starting to shoot straight up, which means the curly scapes from the gourmet hardnecks are not far behind.

If you haven’t tried scapes, they are a real treat. Milder than the bulbs, they are perfect in pestos, lightly steamed with other veggies (a perfect match with asparagus!), or with pasta, seafood, eggs – well, I might be biased, but just about everything!

Keep in mind that cooking will lessen (some would say “mellow”) the flavor. Use raw for full strength. For cooked dishes, I generally chop them up and toss them in at the last minute. If you let them sit a few minutes after slicing, the enzymes in the garlic react and create chemical compounds (allicin and ajoene) that provide more health benefits.

Contact me at blythe [at] barbolian [dot] com or 360-681-3891 for availability.

YES! I am open to trades & barters!

The Scallions Are Here!

Garlic scallions - or "green garlic" - those tender little morsels before they mature into a pungent clove-divided bulb, spell spring in so many ways! Yes you can eat the shoots! And those garlic cloves that didn't quite overwinter and have started to sprout? You can still plant them! Even a small pot will do. Crowded is ok. In a couple of months (maybe less), you, too, can be eating your own scallions right from the garden.

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