Sean and Theresa Wilson produce garlic on their farm in Selwyn and operate a booth at the Millbrook Farmers’ Market.
Sean has a history in dairy farming in the Hamilton area. In 1995 he moved to Peterborough for employment and since then he has gradually found his way back to farming, acquiring a farm at the south end of Selwyn Township where he and his family now specialize in garlic production.
Garlic varieties are either hard neck or soft neck types. Hard neck varieties are more tolerant of the growing conditions of our area, tend to have fewer, larger cloves and a more potent flavour. The couple produce a hard neck garlic variety called ___ , which is relatively unknown but growing in popularity. According to Sean, varieties with colour tend to have a more pungent flavour. Flower stalks on soft neck varieties do not harden and their stalks can be braided. Soft neck varieties also feature more cloves per plant, a shorter term to maturity and are the most common varieties in super markets.
Garlic ripens in mid-July in this area, so to extend their market season, the Wilsons grow some for a spring harvest. Spring garlic plants are young, immature garlic bulbs that have not yet divided into cloves. They look like spring onions, but the garlic taste and fragrance are unmistakable. In mid-June, the farm offers fresh spring garlic as well as a frozen spring garlic paste which adds punch to sauces, meats, pasta and vegetables.
Last week the booth featured garlic scapes, which are the green shoots and flower buds from the hard neck garlic plant. Harvesting these shoots forces the plants to funnel their energy into the bulb, boosting its size and flavour. Scapes can be used like green onions: fresh or cooked, as well as in pesto.
By the end of July, garlic bulbs will have been harvested and some will be available for sale right away. The cloves in these fresh bulbs will be softer and milder than the cured product which will be available a bit later. The Wilsons hold back most of their crop for the curing process, which ensures bulbs of the variety they produce will have a shelf life of eight months.
Each year the Wilson’s expand the variety of produce they grow on the farm, and sweet corn is currently in the field. Welcome to the Millbrook Farmers’ Market! KG