A Matter of Taste

Gathering of Garlic (right to left) : Georgian Fire, Basque Turban, German Red and Persian Star

Garlic (right to left) : Georgian Fire, Basque Turban, German Red, Bogatyr and Persian Star

By way of our good fortunes, we had a gathering of garlics. What to do when you got garlic? Well, Chef Butch hosted a garlic tasting event.  We sampled the raw garlic and recorded the taste.  We learned that the taste of garlic gets concentrated when combined with certain other foods. For example,  a dip in olive oil intensifies the spiciness (much hotter).  And, a dash with a pinch of salt accents the sugars (much sweeter).  Also, we noted that taste is also dependent on growing conditions, weather and soil; so traditionally hot garlic can be mild, and mild garlic can be hot. And finally after all of those considerations, taste literally comes down to a matter of personal preference.

Add Salt for Sweetness

Add Salt for Sweetness

You can read tasting notes below:

Persian Star: Mild at first but ends with some heat; gives a soft-sweet heat; a garlic bread garlic

Bogatyr: Not too hot and not too spicy… but mild. It has a “plain” garlic flavor.

German Red: Mild start, warming, the hotness creeps up with a delayed reaction. A garlic lovers garlic.

Basque Turban: Flavorful and very pleasant; voted most liked by tasters; a raw salad garlic

Georgian Fire: Mild leaving only a warm garlic flavor behind. It was the “mildest” garlic contrary to its’ name.

Polish White (not pictured): Sweet and spicy with mellow after-taste. A very pleasant eating garlic.

Dip in Olive Oil for Spiciness

Dip in Olive Oil for Spiciness

Interestingly, that wonderful garlicky taste isn’t in the garlic until it is crushed or cut; so injury to the garlic activates a flavor-filled reprisal compound on the taster with an aromatic aftershock. It’s the  Allicin that does that.

Yes my friend, garlic is one of those foods that bites back. And, the garlic tasters can certainly vouch to that.

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One dollar, Will You Give Me 2?

Back in October, we had harvested several bushel of organic fingerling potatoes. We had more than we could reasonability expect to sell at the local markets. What did we do with the surplus? We decided to look for a produce auction.  However in our area, like so many other things, we don’t have a close-by option due to our remote location.  And, when we were looking at the end of October, our choices were further limited, because most of the regional produce auctions had already ended.

One auction that we found within a hundred-mile radius, and ran to the end of October, was the Buffalo Valley Produce Auction. One might think with a name like that, it would be located somewhere near Buffalo, New York.  Well no, actually the Buffalo Valley Produce Auction is located south of Williamsport  in Mifflinburg, Pennsylvania. So, we filled out the registration form on-line and waited for a reply. The quick reply came back from the operations manager with the consignor number and the message asked if we had any questions about consigning products. We did have some questions:  “Do you have an organic produce section? Is there much organic produce sold at your auction? “.  The response was that “We do not have an organic section.  We would be glad to sell them for you but the organic label does not add value at our auction.” Those weren’t the answers we were looking for.


Genesee Valley Produce Auction

Doing some more looking, we found the Genesee Valley Produce Auction in Centerville, New York. It had a certified-organic area and held auctions on Tuesday’s and Friday’s through October. Long story short, we took some of our fingerling potatoes there to run through the auction.

And so, as first time consignors of USDA certified produce, it was a learning experience. One might wonder; what is a produce auction? It is many things. For one thing, it’s a large building with lots of floor-space, and with open sides. Lesson one: dress warm for it is likely to be very crisp in an open air building in October. Lesson two: look for painted lines on the floor, forming long rectangles. The color of these lines mean something. Pallets of produce are placed inside these designated spaces; for example green lines are for certified organic (Ah-ha moment). The other colors were for conventional produce, and all had rules as to how much produce was being sold per pallet; full-skids or half-skids or some had a minimum number of boxes per pallet. The white area was for NOT locally grown. So, we divided our bushels of fingerling potatoes onto six pallets of small lots in the green section, attached tags and waited for the auction.


Certified Organic Potatoes at Auction

Before the auction began, there was time to meet bidders; as a number of people had questions and were very interested in the fingerling potatoes we had brought to auction. This was a good time to exchange information, do some marketing and network with other growers and buyers; all of which we did. We heard that we should have come in September when there were the “big buyers”, who would have “snapped-up” those organic fingerling potatoes. So, we learned that we were late to market.

Does anyone understand the auctioneer’s rapid-fire cadence? Kind of hard to follow; but when slowed way down to a novice’s level of comprehension, it’s “One dollar, now 2, now 2, will you give me 2? Two dollars, now 3, now 3, will you give me 3?” But, in real time speed, it was a learning curve. Also, are those bids per pallet or per bag or lot? Another learning curve to climb. Anyways and regardless of lack of familiarity, in a matter of minutes, it was over. It turned out that there were several bidders who bought the six pallets. Some went to Buffalo (the town not the auction) to be sold at city markets, and some were purchased by an Amish family, who had a potato crop failure and needed a winter larder of potatoes. And, the other bidders were probably also buying in bulk for their winter storage needs.

The overall experience at this auction was positive. There were of course, the familiarity challenges to overcome; like finding the auction location, learning the auction rules, identifying the buyers and understanding how the auctioneer was selling the various lots of items. In short summary, we have learned a path to travel to exchange locally grown seasonal farm produce at a newly found and organic-friendly convergence.

We have fingerling potatoes available locally at Costas’ Food Center in Coudersport, Pennsylvania, and if anyone locally has need to fill their own winter larder, let us know; we have you covered.

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Organic Bumper Crop

We had an unusually productive Russian Banana fingerling potato harvest. One could say, it’s a bumper crop.  One 300 feet rows gave us 20 x 1/2 bushel bags. Best we can figure, it’s about a 17 times yield.  All we can say is that there’s lots of very nice looking bananas.  Here is our potato storage area. It’s an old fashion under-ground root cellar. In the mid-summer the temperature is about 65 F and in mid-winter it is 35 F, and always humid (damp) and very dark. The potatoes keep very well there.

Potato Storage Area

Potato Storage Area

And, we are a certified organic farm; we use only a natural production system. So, there’s  satisfaction in growing our own food and filling our table with delicious, healthy produce. And, now we know that these organic practices can produce bountiful and successful harvests on our Potter County farmstead.  Native to the mountains of South America, fingerling potatoes seem to like our cooler climate and soil conditions.

High-Yield Russian Banana Row

High-Yield Russian Banana Row

Local customers can tap into this delicious bumper crop too, and get our favorite fingerling variety in quantity. We are offering a 1/2 bushel bag at $30 for pick-up at the farm or $37.50 delivered within our local area. For certified organic fingerling potatoes, that price is a real bargain.  And, we can give extra discounts for larger orders.  So to place an order, please get in touch by telephone at 814-647-8458 or email us at wooleylot@yahoo.com or see us at the Potter County Farmers Market. Potatoes are an excellent storage crop.

Sliced Bananas

Russian Banana Fingerling Potatoes

What is a bumper crop? In agriculture, it’s used to describe an unusually large crop growth and harvest. The word origin comes the from the use of bumper in the 17th century to describe a large glass of beer or wine that was filled to the brim, hence the sense of bumper as a large amount.

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It’s A Satisfying Thing

Make your way back to local organic food; it’s the satisfying thing to do.

Cousin Bob's

Have you ever heard of someone, opening up a can of snap beans or a bag of carrots from the produce aisle in the supermarket and being totally satisfied enough to write a note to thank the grower. No probably not; it doesn’t happen that way because the growers of the store-bought items are people completely removed and unknown to the customer and the produce is just so-so.

Being farmers who sell directly to customers, it has certain benefits not available to the larger farms. Incentive comes our way when the customers know the farmer.  And that, customer appreciation invigorates us.

Here’s one such comment that we recently received just this week:

“The garlic arrived today as you said it would. We are delighted with it! Thank you for your excellent customer service and prompt delivery.

I am going to make one of our favorite summer meals this evening — a sauce made with fresh uncooked tomatoes, basil and lots of garlic served with sprouted wheat pasta and some parmesan cheese.”

On another occasion, we were sent a wonderfully hand-made and very artistic thank you card with a note written inside:

Thank You

“Josh and I wanted to thank you again for going out of your way last month to show us your lovely farm and your delicious produce! We loved everything  — the garlic, the potatoes, the squash and the amazing pesto! And we also loved getting the chance to meet you and talk with you about you and your farm. We would be happy to say hello –and buy more garlic garlic! — if our paths cross in the future!” — Rose and Josh, New York, New York

Needless to say, these customer comments made our day. Happy customers are satisfying to us.

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Digging Red Thumbs

We had a good run on RED THUMBS this year. They were an earlier potato (around 80 days) plus they had good size and shape.  These potatoes yielded well, and weren’t too fussy to grow and dig. When digging them their bright red color was easy to spot in the soil. They grew higher up in the hill so they could be lifted out of the soil using a broad fork. We will plant more of them in the future seasons.


Bright Red-Skinned Thumbs have a Pink Flesh

And, maybe more importantly, the feedback from the customers were very positive. So you might say that we’re not the only ones digging our fingerling potatoes.

Here’s what Chef Butch had to say;

“Wanted to let you know how delicious the potatoes were – roasted with salt and pepper crust, baked with butter and sour cream, boiled and made into a fresh herbed home made mayonnaise. Everybody who ate them was wowed. Be seeing you soon for more!

And so our last dig of these Red Thumb beauties will go to Costa’s Food Center in Coudersport, Pennsylvania today; and some will go to  Schoolhouse Health Foods in Eldred, Pennsylvania later this week.

Weighting the Yield!

Weighing the Yield!

Fret not local food fans, we still have fingerlings available.  Our next harvests will be later maturing ones; the Russian Bananas and the Rose Finn Apples will be soon dug.

Click here to see our fingerling potato listing.






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From Field to Drying Rack


Garlic Bulbs in Drying Rack

If somebody tells you, you put too much garlic in your food. Get rid of them you don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.

Yes indeed, we kicked off the garlic harvest.  This garlic harvest is our farm’s original garlic cultivar. A few years ago, we noticed it growing on a bank, in a small patch of long stemmed garlic plants amongst the weeds. We pulled some of these garlic plants and replanted a few of the very small bulbs and planted the tiny cloves into a prepared garlic bed. And, we’re finally got some decent sized bulbs after a few years of replanting the biggest bulbs. This old strain has an attractive bulb with distinctive purple striping.

Here’s a photo galley of a garlic harvest; as it goes from the field to the dry rack.

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Making Compost Tea

Mention that you made some compost tea, and “What is compost tea?” is a common question. Well the first thing you should know about it is that people don’t drink it but your plants will love it. So, you might think of it as a health drink of beneficial microorganisms brewed from compost for your garden plants to enjoy. Here is a 3-day brew (aerated with air not heated like real tea). Ingredients are worm castings, raw molasses, water and air. All this results in a wonderful and natural way to fertilizer the garden without dependence on chemicals.

It looks very much like brewed black tea; hence the name. The tea is dark brown tea-like color and odorless. It is not at all unpleasant. We applied the freshly brewed compost tea as a foliar feeding to vegetable plants and as a soil drench.



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