Would you like to introduce yourself and your operation?
I am Tom Childs. I work for Twin Springs Fruit Farm. We are located just West of Gettysburg PA. We do farm markets in the Washington metro area.
What are the benefits of producing garlic to your operation?
We grow several storage crops, onions, sweet potatoes, potatoes, and some others and garlic is something we can sell. We harvest mid-July and we can sell it and keep, usually keeps for us well into February. So it is a nice long-term crop and spreads over the season for us.
What are the challenges of producing garlic?
Garlic should be planted in this area in mid-October. We are a fruit farm, we grow many, many, crops.
October and November are still really busy for us, so getting it in the ground in the fall, and working around the weather is one challenge. Weed control, because it is such a long-term crop, you can see the weeds in here. Weed control can be problematic, we end up a lot of times doing some hand weeding, which is expensive. Other than that, it is relatively easy. It is a lot of labor to get it in the ground. But other than that, it is a pretty good crop.
What is your marketing plan for garlic?
We harvest mid-July, we dry it, we clean it pretty much as we sell it. We grow right now about 400 pounds. So it takes a little while to get it harvested and up. You want to get it dried. That is really important. We dry it in our greenhouse, in our transplant house which is out of use at that point. We sell it by the head at market.
What other marketing options are available for garlic?
One of the good things about garlic that we like about garlic that we like, today is June 4th and we are right in the middle of harvesting scapes. This is the seed head of the garlic, we grow a hardneck garlic. It wants to produce the scape or seed head and this is right about where you want to harvest it. It is not something you will find in a grocery store so it is really a specialty product. We sell them for, I think about $6.00 per pound. People use it like green garlic, to chop up in stir fry, and it is just sort of a value-added part of the crop. It is not just the garlic that you are going to sell. These have to be pulled anyway because you do not want this seed head to develop, it will cost you in clove size and head size of the garlic.
Is there anything else you would like to add concerning garlic?
There are a lot of different garlics out, we prefer the hardneck, it is the most pungent, people that enjoy garlic are not going to be the people who go to the grocery store and buy the Chinese garlic 4, 5, or 6 for a dollar. They are willing to pay a premium price for a premium garlic. We grow a German white variety. It is a really good addition to our markets.