Miracle Bulbs

Healthy Hardnecks

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.

Now, 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 in it."

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 Lafayette Village.

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 www.garliconline.com.

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 and Rt.94.
908-852-7362 or 973-235-8742

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Cee Wagner
11 Dec 2016, 12:28
What a mistake. I didn't buy the garlic spread last year. I so regretted not purchasing it since March, 2016. He also sold me THE BEST bee pollen I've eva tasted. I will find you! SOMEHOW!
louis trapasso
30 Jun 2014, 11:31
Where and when is the Garden State Garlick gathering this year? (2014)
My wife and I would like to plan a day trip to a farm festival sometime in Sept....
Lorraine Hornik
28 Apr 2014, 12:21
Very interesting. Do you have any Czech variety garlic or garlic that is especially hot when eaten raw? I assume any you have won't be available to ship until August/September.

11 Mar 2014, 10:58
I never planted garlic before I just ordered some and they're coming in the mail but now I realize after reading I really should not plant them until the fall so I was wondering if you can plant garlic in March or will it not really grow? And if I should not plant now will that garlic keep until the fall to be able to plant it?
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.
maureen lewis
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
beverly nykreim
23 Jun 2012, 19:05
Do you happen to have black garlic,I'm interested in growing it here in Wa state.
ned Kelley
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
diane lewis
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.
Timothy Roach
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?
Harvey Finkel
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 readbooks@clintonbookshop.com\r\n find us on Facebook at\r\n Clinton Farmers' Market\r\n
Cecille Hamilton
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?
Debbie Nuzzie
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?
Jim Florio
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
Suzy King
17 Sep 2010, 08:59
What varieties of seed garlic , if any, do you have left? Thanks\r\nSuzy King
young ahn
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 e-mail.\r\nthank you
sandra Kerr
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
deb keller
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
Kathi Mikita
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.
Cheryl Geibel
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 Cheryl
norna fairbanks
07 Nov 2009, 15:06
Please tell me how to obtain your garlic so I may plant\r\nit.
sandy kerr
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
george rho
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 advise.
Daine Brown
15 Oct 2009, 07:57
Hi,where are you located
sandra Kerr
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
sandra Kerr
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
Mike DePeri
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.
Ernst Ulysse
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 You\r\nErnst\r\n
Vladimir Goldenberg
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: pegoholding@gmail.com\r\n
Susan Collins
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 33436
pete mapelli
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
Tim Jones
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?
Gail MacGregor
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 in October?\r\n\r\nGail\r\n
joan Meredith
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

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