Story and photos by Mary Jasch
Walk into Roman Osadca's barn and it's not horses you
smell. It's that white papery bulb that wards off vampires and the common
cold. Arranged just so on three rows of 4 by 30-foot drying screens piled
three screens high, the garlic sits right side up, their stalks in the
air, looking like little white soldiers. At the head of each row a large
pedestal fan has been running day and night since July 4 passing air
over the bulbs, drying and curing them, concentrating their flavor.
the well-dried bulbs have finished developing their own flavors, unique
to each variety. They await Osadca's discerning hand for picking just
the right bulbs for sale at any moment. Osadca grows 152 varieties of
hardneck garlic at Valley Fall Farm for his family's use; and just because
he's crazy about the bulb. He also sells to restaurants, chefs, farm
stands and garlic collectors. Someday maybe next year he
may grow more of the 600 globally-available varieties.
"Right now garlic is juicy and delicious," says the State Fair's Overall
Grand Champion 2005 Garlic Exhibitor whose bulbs sport uniform size,
color, and quality, and absolute perfection. "It has more garlic oil
Osadca dug his hardnecks out of the ground in July, but what happened
before that started last fall. The process began as usual in mid-October
he planted the cloves and within a few days they started to root. In
the warm fall, each shoot grew two to three inches. By the time the ground
froze, the roots were a foot long and the shoots hunkered down to stay
green all through the winter. This spring, the garlic was the first thing
to grow. The small cloves, each supported by a huge root system are in
no danger of rotting, even during wet springs. Of course Osadca doesn't
plant in soggy soil, either.
With leaves and a shooting stalk converting sunlight to food, the hardnecks
began to grow the rest of their cloves and turn into bulbs in June, but
not a day before. Softnecks grow just the leaves. So, what's the difference?
Softneck garlic is what you buy in supermarkets mass-produced
because the plants are easier to grow in warm climates where the big
food farms are. They also store longer up to a year in the fridge.
They have no stalk in the middle; they're low on flavor, hard to peel,
and have several layers of 10-25 smallish cloves. A hardneck, though,
is specially grown, has a tall stalk in the middle, exquisite flavor,
a short shelf life, and a single ring of 4-8 large cloves with three
times the anti-biotic content as a softneck. Plus, they're easy to peel.
At the beginning of June, the hardneck's stalk grows upward and goes
into a 360 degree curl. It forms a swelling that contains a bulbil with
100-200 mini-cloves genetically identical to the mother bulb down below.
The bulbil, the plant's secondary form of reproduction, dries over the
summer, falls over, opens up and spills its tiny cloves on the soil.
When the stalk was still young and green and the bulbil fresh in the
curl, Osadca cut it off mostly to redirect the plant's energy to grow
a bigger bulb in the ground. If you leave the stalk with bulbil (a.k.a.
garlic scape or garlic flower) on, the bulb will be 20 to 40 percent
smaller. But don't throw that bulbil away. It's good to eat.
So in June he took the cut green scapes into the house, blended them
up with olive oil, pine nuts and cheese, and made pesto. They're also
delicious on salads crunchy. He eats his garlic mostly fresh because
he knows that when raw garlic gets crushed, two of the chemicals present
in the bulb combine to make a sulfur compound that creates a potent antibiotic
and also gives the garlic its taste.
"The best way to thoroughly crush garlic is by smashing it sideways
to give it the maximum amount of macerating to combine the two chemicals," says
Odsaca, a chemical engineer who works in quality control and production
at Roche. If you want instantaneous flavor, smash it up. If you want
slow release, slice it up and put it in a saucepan.
Cloves galore at the annual Garden State Garlic Gathering at Olde
The amino acid alliin and the enzyme alliinase make allicin, the garlic
plant's defense mechanism that tastes, smells, and feels bad to unwary
predators except some humans. The two chemicals stay dormant when the
plant isn't handled, so the antibiotic and maximum flavor is saved to
exist only at the time of use. "You get the most antibiotic by eating
it raw at room temperature," Osadca says. "Heat destroys the antibiotic."
Once smashed, garlic, a.k.a. "nectar of the gods," "camphor of the poor" and "stinking
rose," retains 100 percent of it's antibacterial potency for 24 hours.
After that, allicin changes and its antibacterial properties dissipate,
but the papery antioxidant bulb still kills viruses, cleans arteries,
dissolves plaque, thins blood, and lowers bad cholesterol. And for women,
it cures yeast infections. To top it off, garlic goes after only bad
bacteria, not the army of good guys in your intestines. Why would anyone
not want to plant it and eat it?
Osadca and friends faced that very question three years ago when they
founded Garden State Garlic, a loose organization of people who want
to eat and plant great garlic, and learn about it. It's on the web at
Plant your garlic two inches deep, six inches apart, with one foot between
rows. Garlic bulbs swell in the beginning of June and only grow until
the summer equinox, being daylight sensitive plants. If you plant later,
they won't grow. Harvest the bulbs in late June/early July. If left in
the ground, the paper breaks, dirt gets in and the bulbs rot. Good softneck
varieties include Red Toch, Transylvanian, and Inchellium Red. Some of
Osadca's favorite hardnecks include Music, Legacy, Spanish Roja, Italian
Purple, and German White.
Osadca's advice to gardeners who will now want to grow garlic of their
very own: "Some garlics from all over the world do well in Northwestern
New Jersey soils and climate. Some need several years to acclimate and
grow well. Be patient."
This October, Osadca will be out planting cloves of rare varieties by
hand in raised beds in an area the size of a football field. He'll tag
them, map them, test some, and just keep planting others to keep them
propagated. Then he'll hop the tractor and plant four more acres all
in garlic. Want some?
The Annual Garden State Garlic Gathering and Festival
takes place at Olde Lafayette Villagetakes place in early October.
Or at Valley Fall Farm, 10 Old Stage Road off Rt.661 between Johnsonburg
908-852-7362 or 973-235-8742
28 Oct 2013, 16:37
Hi! Iím looking to purchase some garlic and shallot for planting this
fall. Do you have any left for sale? Do I just need to stop at your farm
at 10 Old Stage Road? Or do I need to make an appointment
first?\r\n\r\nThanks and hoping to hear back from you!\r\nNancy
24 Oct 2013, 12:22
would like to know when planting garlic from the bulb and you take it apart
if the skin comes off can you still plant it., \r\nalso the pod on the top
of the stalk is that the seeds to start garlic,\r\n\r\nand are you open to
pick up some extra garlic.
22 Oct 2012, 15:37
I live in Long Valley and want to start growing garlic. Is it possible to
come to your farm Roman and buy it from you? What days and times are best
to come? thanks! maureen
23 Jun 2012, 19:05
Do you happen to have black garlic,I'm interested in growing it here in Wa
31 May 2012, 18:56
My soil seems to be poor for growing large heads of garlic, I have greens
that are almost three feet tall, but do not feel a very large head
developing when I poke my finger down next to the bulb. In past years the
greens were not as tall and the bulbs when harvested were a good size. I
did have the problem mentioned last year, I am rotating my crops, Is there
a way to augment my soil at this time to increase the size of the heads by
harv est time? Thanks for your consideration. Ned Kelley
Rosy de Soto
31 May 2012, 18:52
We would like to kow if you know peo[le who would like to buy 3 acres of
garlic resently harvested. We are in Monterrey, N.L.,Mexico
01 May 2012, 10:15
I have been growing garlic in my garden here in NJ for years. This year it
seems a bit early - like it will be ready well before Solstice - Are you
experiencing the same result this year with unseasonably warm spring?
11 Mar 2012, 20:21
why do you guys reject our chinese fresh garlic?! The garlic export from
our company is also widely accepted by your US market.\r\npls respect
people in other areas.Thanks.
24 Oct 2011, 12:16
I am trying to reach Roman Osadca to buy garlic, but the phone is
disconnected and e-mails come back un-deliverable.\r\n\r\nDoes anyone have
a current contact number/address? If not, do you know of another resource
here in NJ to buy garlic for growing? I just have a raised bed, so don't
need a huge suply.
Barbara & Frank
20 Sep 2011, 08:58
Hello----\r\nCharlott Detrick had pointed me in this direction. I a a good
friend of hers. I am looking for garlic to plant this year next month.
looking for Music garlic, Italian, spanish roha, we like a strong garlic
flavor. Please get back to me of what you have for sale. We are planning
to attend the Lafayette Garlic Festival. Hope to see you there.
10 Sep 2011, 10:36
We have our own raised bed garlic patch and plant around 100 bulbs a year
for our consumption, but we dug up this years crop and have some of our
bulbs only having 1 layer of paper on them, is there something in our soil
that may be causing this?
23 Jun 2011, 15:43
Hello,\r\n \r\nWe are a group of business leaders and local citizens that
are starting a farmers market in Clinton NJ. We are looking for a variety
of vendors. Please contact us if you would consider selling at our market.
We are looking to start it in July on Sundays\r\nfrom 10am to 2pm.
Thanks!\r\n \r\n Harvey Finkel\r\n Clinton Book Shop\r\n 908-735-8811\r\n
email@example.com\r\n find us on Facebook at\r\n Clinton
16 Apr 2011, 07:45
I have a few recipes that call for green scapes, but I can't find them
anywhere. Please help!! I live too in Sussex County, NJ.
29 Oct 2010, 16:04
I was recently laid off so I had time to cultivate a great garlic patch. I
say that only b/c they seem to be growing very well, but now i'm back to
work and didn't have time to cover the bed with the leaf mulch as i had
planned to do.\r\n\r\nWill cutting them and covering them at this point
hurt them? I was told to do cover them to protect from frost, and give all
energy to the bulbs over the winter.. i'm inclined to cut them down and
cover them but i don't want to damage the crop\r\nshould i just let nature
take it's course?
09 Oct 2010, 10:16
Hey there, \r\n\r\nYou stated that it takes a while to cultivate the soil
to produce great garlic. How long does this take? I'm a beginner and I'm
going to plant cloves from the grocery store to see what I get. My whole
family loves garlic I put it in everything ... almost, and I read in the
newspaper now (October) is the time to plant.Do you think I'll have any
luck or should I play and just keep trying?
18 Sep 2010, 08:30
The hardneck garlics especially do well in colder climates. In fact some
thrive on being in the ground during very cold winters.\r\n\r\nHere's a
great article on how to grow garlic.\r\nhttp://garlic.agsxpress.com
17 Sep 2010, 08:59
What varieties of seed garlic , if any, do you have left? Thanks\r\nSuzy
10 Sep 2010, 05:40
I'd like to purchase not too much manipulated of gene garlic if it's
possible for cook and please let me how I can find your place. Please me a
14 May 2010, 17:01
Hi Roman!\r\nWe'll be going to a special event about chickens this Sat.
5/15. We'd like to stop by and get garlic, yogurt, and some other things.
Will you be there? I'll just hope you guys will be there.\r\nLooking
forward to seeing you,\r\nSandy
04 Apr 2010, 12:25
Looking for garlic bulbs to buy to plant now, in the spring. We go to
Lafayette in October, but a friend wants them to be planted now. Especially
hardnecks. Thanks for any input. deb
20 Mar 2010, 10:15
I've grown garlic that I've purchased from you for several years. Now it's
March and my garlic from last season is starting to dry out. Question, can
I freeze my remaining garlic before it completely dries out or can I peel
the garlic and put it in olive oil to get me through the rest of the season
till the harvest. Thank you.
20 Nov 2009, 10:13
Hi,I am new to NJ gardening. I want to plant garlic but am wondering if it
is too late for fall planting? Do you still have seed for sale?\r\nThanks
07 Nov 2009, 15:06
Please tell me how to obtain your garlic so I may plant\r\nit.
27 Oct 2009, 14:36
Hey Roman,\r\nWe've been very busy with houseguests and Fall clean-up. I
just wanted you to know how delicious the yogurt was and all the other
"goodies". I've planted almost all the garlic ,saving just a few for
instant gratification!! You guys grow the very best garlic I've ever
used...wish more people knew how easy and how much fun it is.\r\nWe'll be
out to see you as soon as we can and ,hopefully, it will be during the
week.\r\nAll the best to my new Ukrainian friend!\r\nSandy
26 Oct 2009, 12:34
hi,\r\n\r\nI would like to buy some garlic to grow this fall. I live in
morris county and would like to get started as soon as possible. Please
15 Oct 2009, 07:57
Hi,where are you located
06 Oct 2009, 18:59
OMGoodness!! The best yogurt I've ever tasted...the way it should be.
Thank you so much for the honey, the garlic and the delicious
yogurt.\r\nWe'll be in touch .\r\nSandy
04 Oct 2009, 18:08
We tried to find your farm today but did not have luck.\r\nI met you at the
cheese festival in Califon a couple of years ago and have been in love with
growing garlic ever since!! Last year someone gave me garlic bulbs from
CA, they were not as good or beautiful as yours.\r\nIf you would please
E-mail me directions or tell me how I can buy the bulbs from you that would
be great!\r\nLooking forward to hearing from you,\r\nSandy Kerr\r\nPS. I
also called and left a message.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n
10 Aug 2009, 05:38
Roman, it is good to see you. I have heard lots about your garlic. I am the
person that sits opposite Ramona in Roche. I am also a friend of Bill
Codner, a friend of yours. I look forward to Lafayette, and ask if you will
be at the Stroudsburg garlic festival too. My significant other is Bronia
Pawlyzsyzn (sp). She knows you. Nastrovia. Where is your farm? Mike.
23 Jun 2009, 13:26
I'm looking for a garlic grower that will supply large quantities of garlic
for a project we are doing. If you can't locate a grower I will consider a
distributor.\r\n\r\nPS. Are they any in NJ or NY ?\r\n\r\n\r\nThank
11 Apr 2009, 15:03
Dear Sirs,\r\nWe are interested to purchase a Green Garlic (plants) and
garlic seeds (small cloves) for green garlic growing.\r\n\r\nAwaiting your
soonest reply,\r\n-- \r\nWith Best regards,\r\n\r\nVladimir
Goldenberg\r\nProject Manager\r\n\r\nPEGO Holding LLC,\r\ntel: +1 (347)
7101779\r\nfax: +1 (347) 4383120\r\nemail: firstname.lastname@example.org\r\n
07 Feb 2009, 06:39
I would dearly love to find a non-Chinese source for fresh garlic bulbs for
consumption by myself and my family. Any ideas, pointers?
Thanks.\r\n\r\nSusan Collins\r\n281 Meadows Drive\r\nBoynton Beach, Fl
07 Sep 2008, 12:30
I am interested in 10 lbs of german white. I have grown garlic for many
years and usually take from that years harvest for the next
planting.However, with the wet spring i would be interested in purchasing
10 lbs of quality garlic and use my garlic for home and family consumption
07 Aug 2008, 19:41
Hello,\r\nI am making a product that requires fresh(preferably peeled)
garlic. I don't want to use garlic from China. As a NJ native, I want
garlic grown here. Can you help?
07 Aug 2008, 13:35
Unfortunately I didn't know about the bulbils. Next year I will cut off
the flower sooners. My question is now that I have these bulbils, is there
a recipe I can use them in? Are they good to eat and/or can I replant them
11 Jun 2008, 16:29
Wow thanks for onfo I planted hardneck in my garden for the very first time
only 24 plants feel like they are my children. They just formed scapes and
now I guess I need to cut the scape. Pretty exciting. Joan