Our Own Ontario Garlic

The garlic is laid out on a mesh screen for a couple weeks to allow it to cure, or dry out so it can be better stored.

Nine months ago we planted our garlic. It was fun, although we were pretty skeptical of it lasting the winter and sprouting in the spring. But it did. Every single clove we planted has now grown a full bulb of garlic. Some are smaller than others, but it’s a beautiful relief to pull bulb after bulb out of the ground if only to know we’re not going to ever have to buy garlic again.

The garlic turned out to be a great anchor in our garden. It was up early and endured many frosts while we impatiently waited for the soil to dry and be ready for all of our seeds and seedlings.

Our garlic was harvested a week or two before it should have, only because it dried out a bit early with this summer’s heat. Next year, if it’s as dry, we’ll give the plants a few well-timed waterings, and keep the soil looser around the bulbs. This will hopefully let them swell up a bit more and give nice plump bulbs. But really, I’m not sure what we’re going to do with 200 bulbs anyways. Plump or not.

A beautiful bulb of Italian garlic. I initially bundled the garlic up, but then figured out I should lay it out to dry.

I’m not completely sure why Ontario garlic is such a rare commodity. There is no reason for there to be Chinese garlic in the grocery store, but there it is, day after day. It’s a perfect example of the lunacy of importing food. First, it comes from China, about as far away on the globe as you can get. Then, in order to keep it from sprouting on it’s epic voyage, it’s often treated with chemicals or rumoured to be sometimes irradiated to kill any form of life in it.

All this for a plant that grows beautifully in our province.

But I do know why Chinese garlic is so popular at the grocery store. It’s 99 cents for three bulbs compared with a few dollars for one bulb of local, fresh garlic. But what you get for the 99 cents is 1/3 the flavour and a complete lack of disclosure as to how it was grown and what it was soaked in for it to survive price speculation and shipping.

The Russian garlic grew the most beautiful bulbs. We’ll do a taste test and them most likely re-plant it for next year.

So what can you do? Ontario garlic is a notoriously fast seller at farmers markets, so make sure you pick up a few bulbs soon. And if you have a garden, plant the singular cloves from one of those bulbs so you can grow your own for next summer. Just don’t try to plant the stuff at the supermarket. There’s a good chance there’s no life in them.

6 comments

  • Amazing garlic, guys! I CANNOT ever bring myself to buy imported garlic, even if I'm desperate. Looks like you'll never have to worry about that again. I'll be planting some this fall – can't wait!

  • i know what you should do with some of it. send it to my house. i just took my first finished cucumber off the plant yesterday and there are many more developing nicely. as well, i harvested beans, more swiss chard, zucchini and potatoes. i've learned so much about what i'll do and what i'll change for next years (double the size) garden. it's been really cool watching what you guys are doing too. i'm learning from that as well.

  • We grew our first garlic last year. What a delight and we were able to use part of last year's stock to replant for this year. Just say no to any food from China is my mantra. Who knows where it's been….shivers….

    ~Andrea

  • Thank you for telling it like it is. Garlic from China is almost toxic. I hate having to buy it, but to find organic homegrown garlic out here is difficult. Thankfully I managed to get some from Missing Goat Blueberry Farm.

    Can't wait to have a bigger garden and grow my own. Right now I am growing little bits of it in many of my pots, and have harvested some this spring.

    There is nothing like real garlic, nothing…

    Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

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