We are down to our last bag of garlic bulbs from last year’s harvest. But no need to worry, because last fall, we planted about 150 pounds of cloves to harvest again later this summer. Our last of the 2013 is Ohman Red (shown here) and it is still firm, and has it’s very strong garlic flavor. So, it is indeed a good keeper.
About 5 years ago, we bought some of this kind of garlic from Andy Heffner, who lives over in Ormsby, Pennsylvania not far west of Smethport. And since then, our farm has been growing it. A couple of years ago, we sold some to the Good Growing Gardens at the Poor Farm in Smethport, Pennsylvania. And, now they grow it too. That’s how heirlooms have remained viable over the years — by being passed to new growers. So with that, here’s the rest of story:
The variety Andy Heffner grows came from Carl Ohman, a long-time garlic grower in East Smethport. Carl had worked for Tidewater in the 1920’s when they were bringing in Italian immigrants to dig lines by hand. One particular workman Carl taught to speak English and, over the years, they became friends.
Every day for lunch, this Italian worker had two red garlic cloves, pepperoni, Italian bread and a liquid from a green bottle. He was never sick. Carl eventually learned that the garlic came from the Milan region of Italy. In fact, when people came from Italy to the United States they were told to smuggle in the garlic – men, in their pockets, or women to sew it inside dresses. Any garlic packed in luggage would be found and thrown away.
When Carl finally got some of these bulbs, he had to promise he would replant half of his crop every year. By the time, Andy met him, he was peddling four tons of it. Andy would end up buying 30-35 pounds of it to plant.
Story based on a newspaper clipping: (2009, September 25). ‘Round the Square. The Bradford Era.