Mark Capps and Lynn Teddlie of Straight from the Backyard Farm in Loganville have 30,000 garlic plants in the ground. Thirty thousand. And they’ll be planting more.
Much of that garlic will grow on to ripen fully and be sold at market as dried bulbs. But some of those plants are for pulling as green garlic, young shoots of garlic with the immature bulb attached.
Some of the garlic is soft-neck garlic, the first garlic to bulb up and the source of the green garlic Capps has been bringing to market since the middle of April. “Asian Tempest” is a soft-neck variety that does well for him, and he harvests it as both green garlic and as bulbs. “It has a strong bite and is a good garlic to eat fresh,” Capps said.
He plants this type of garlic continually from October to June in order to keep bringing green garlic to market.
This year, Straight from the Backyard Farm is selling at the Marietta Square Farmers Market on Saturdays and Sundays, the Emory Farmers Market and Whistle Stop Market in Norcross on Tuesdays, and at the Tucker Farmers Market on Thursdays.
Capps also grows hard-neck garlic, a type generally happier in a cooler climate. “Hard necks are the plants that put out scapes, or flower stalks, and farmers generally cut those off so the plant will put its energy back into forming the bulb. This kind of garlic needs a certain period where the soil is 40 to 50 degrees, and that can be hard to get here,” he said.
He finds all the hard-neck varieties to be better tasting than the soft neck. “The cloves are larger and easier to peel. They’re less hot and really vary in flavor,” he said. Some hard-neck cultivars he’ll be bringing to market this year are “Creole Red,” “Montana Giant,” and the purple-striped “Chesnok Red.”
There’s a trade-off though. “The better tasting the garlic, the shorter the storage period,” said Capps.
All total he’s growing about 25 varieties this year. “This way we have soft-neck garlic to harvest as green garlic, then they bulb up, and finally we have the hard-neck garlic. We can provide garlic to our customers for a longer period of time,” Capps said.
He enjoys seeing his customers get excited when they learn about the range of flavors in garlic. “Most people are surprised that there’s more than one variety. They think garlic is garlic. We teach them it’s like wine or cheese. The more they use the different garlics, the more they can see which ones they like best raw, which ones they like best for sauteeing, which ones roast better,” he said.
Capps should have garlic available through October. “October is when it’s time to start planting garlic, and any stored bulbs start sprouting because they know it’s time to go back in the ground,” he said.
When you get your dried garlic home, keep it dry, cool and in a dark place, and it should keep for six to eight months. Keep it in mesh or open paper bags to keep air circulating around the bulbs.
At local farmers markets
4-8 p.m., Thursday, May 16. Chef Seth Freedman of Forage and Flame offers demos throughout the evening.
9 a.m. Saturday, May 18. Chef Robert Gerstenecker, Park 75/Four Seasons, working with Tokyo bekana. Morningside Farmers Market, Atlanta. www.morningsidemarket.com
10 a.m. Saturday, May 18. Chef Zeb Stevenson, Livingston. Peachtree Road Farmers Market, Atlanta. www.peachtreeroadfarmersmarket.com
11 a.m. Saturday, May 18. Chef Mimmo Alboumeh, Red Pepper Taqueria and Coldbrews Sports Bar and Grill. Green Market at Piedmont Park, Atlanta. www.piedmontpark.org
Vegetables and fruit: arugula, Asian greens, asparagus, beets, broccoli raab, cabbage, carrots, celery, chard, collards, cucumbers, dandelion, English peas, fennel, green garlic, herbs, kale, kohlrabi, lamb’s quarters, leeks, lettuce, mushrooms, mustard greens, pea tendrils, radishes, sorrel, spinach, spring onions, strawberries, sugar snaps, tomatoes, turnips
From local reports
40 Cloves and a Chicken
Hands on: 15 minutes
Total time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
1 (3- to 4-pound) chicken, cut into 8 pieces
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Salt and pepper
40 cloves garlic, peeled
5 sprigs fresh thyme
Baguette or other crusty bread, for serving
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Rub chicken with 2 tablespoons olive oil, then season on all sides with salt and pepper.
In a large skillet or small Dutch oven, brown the chicken over high heat until golden brown on all sides, about 10 minutes total. Do not crowd the pan. If necessary, cook chicken in batches.
When all chicken is done, return to skillet or Dutch oven and add garlic and thyme. Drizzle with remaining 1/4 cup olive oil and cover skillet or Dutch oven. Bake chicken for 1 hour or until chicken is cooked through. Serve immediately and use cooked garlic as a spread for sliced bread.
Adapted from a recipe in “Good Eats: The Early Years” by Alton Brown (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, $37.50)
Per serving: 469 calories (percent of calories from fat, 40), 23 grams protein, 46 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fiber, 20 grams fat (3 grams saturated), 46 milligrams cholesterol, 521 milligrams sodium.