Exploring homegrown garlic in Windsor-Essex
Windsor Morning's Jonathan Pinto discusses with Morgan Garlics owner the 'hardest easy plant to grow'
Andrew Morgan says that garlic is the "hardest 'easy' plant to grow." He's the man behind a new farming venture that spans Windsor and Essex County.
"It is easy: you pop it in the ground, water it a little, look after it, then when the time is right, take it out of the ground. It resists most diseases. Insects and animals aren't interested in it," Morgan said. "On the other hand, it is labour intensive. It must be planted by hand to ensure the clove is right-way-up.
"The growing season is long — from October to July — so you only get one yield per year. When harvested, it must be cured in a consistently dry and humidity controlled space."
After growing a test crop last year, Morgan harvested his first bulbs for sale this past July. He grew 300 in LaSalle, 200 on Pelee Island and 100 in his backyard in Windsor's Walkerville neighbourhood. About two-thirds of his harvest will be sold. The rest will be used to seed next year's crop. Morgan says that Pelee Island will be his main growing area next year. He plans to grow at least 1,000 bulbs there.
But how is this garlic different than what you find at the supermarket?
"What you find in the grocery store ... nine times out of 10 it's from China. One of the issues that you'll find when you're purchasing that garlic is that it's already been stored for a long, long time — I mean, it's made a trans-pacific commute to your grocer. So what you might find is that it's probably already sprouting. To me, that's a sign that it's ... quite old and not as tasty."
Morgan says his garlic is fresher and lasts from six months to a year.
"I've got four or five different varieties — and I've just ordered four or five more different varieties for this next season; different heat levels, different spiciness levels. Some garlic I equate to wasabi. It hits you really quickly, goes up your nasal region, and then dies — then you just have a mellow flavor.
"Other types of garlic will not have that up-front feel, but will rise, like a really hot chicken wing sauce that builds and builds. And then other types of garlic don't have that huge impact, and just have a mellow profile, even raw."
While Morgan is finished selling for the season at local farmers' markets, you can still purchase Morgan Garlics at William's Grocery, located at 1767 Wyandotte St. E in Windsor. Additionally, Oxley Estate Winery in Harrow just purchased six pounds of Morgan Garlics for use at its restaurant.
Hear Jonathan's latest food adventure every Thursday at 8:10 a.m. on CBC Radio One - 97.5FM in Windsor, 91.9FM in Leamington, 88.1FM in Chatham & 90.3FM in Sarnia. Do you have a food, restaurant or dish that you think Jonathan should explore? Call (519) 255-3400, email email@example.com or tweet him directly at @jonathan_pinto.