Archives for the month of: September, 2015


Marbled Purple Stripe garlic. Picture by Grand Gorge Garlic and Maple Farm

Grand Gorge Garlic and Maple Farm is located in New York and is a regular at the Hudson Valley Garlic Festival selling organic garlic, maple syrup and (new this year) blue potatoes.


Spanish Roja garlic by Grand Gorge Garlic at the Hudson Valley Garlic Festival last year

Fred, an expert grower at the farm generously took the time to tell me about the farm. “I’ve always loved garlic and growing plants. In 2005 I inherited an abandoned plot of garlic in a field adjacent to my cabin. Because the garlic had been untended, it had a head (umbel) full of seeds (bulbils) so I planted the bulbils, sewing the seeds the way nature intended.”


Fred on the farm, you can see the entire garlic plant in this picture.

“This led to the discovery that allowing the scapes (flower buds) to grow and develop into umbels (seed heads) has some benefits – the dried garlic has better longevity, stays dormant longer and does not sprout internally. It does not go soft, has plenty of oil and a better flavor. So this is how we harvest our garlic at the farm – with the stem, leaves and umbels uncut.”

Garlic farmer with turban varietal garlic at Grand Gorge Garlic and Maple Farm

Fred with a turban varietal at the farm. Picture by Grand Gorge Garlic & Maple Farm.

Fred explained that healthy soil is vital for a successful harvest “Our method is a two-year rotation. In the first year, the planting bed is prepared. Aged manure (about three years old) is spread over the surface. Soil testing will dictate whether nutrients should be added (sea minerals, lime or magnesium).”

Rocambole garlic bubils enclosed in umbel.

Rocambole bubils enclosed in umbels. Picture by Grand Gorge Garlic and Maple Farm

“In the second year, buckwheat is grown as a cover crop and weeds are allowed to grow. These plants provide food for pollinating insects. A local herbalist harvests the wild plants because after many years of organic farming, the soil is so pure. We are a certified organic farm and have passed inspections by NOFA.” (NOFA is the North East Organic Farming Association)

“In the 3rd week of September, the cover crops are chopped up and the soil is tilled. Garlic is planted about mid-October, then the soil is covered with a 6 inch layer of straw mulch.”

The garlic is harvested in July the following year. We grow about 50,000 bulbs including rare varieties. The bulbs are dried in a home-made drying shed which is open at both ends to allow a breeze to flow through.”

Sign about garlic

A sign at the Hudson Valley Garlic Festival.

How to grow garlic in your backyard – Fred shared these tips

  1. Take a test of the soil. Your local Cornell Cooperative Extension can help with this
  1. Add nutrients/amendments to the soil per the results of the soil test.
  1. Plant the garlic cloves or bulbils in mid to late October (for the Hudson Valley region)
  1. plant the garlic cloves or bulbils pointy end up. Plant in rows with the cloves 2-3 ” deep, 6″ to 8″ apart.
  1. The following year, when the garlic has started to grow, don’t cut the scapes, let the umbels form
  1. When the top 4 leaves are 50% brown it’s time to harvest. This usually coincides with the hottest days of the summer in July.
  1. Dry (cure) the garlic with the stem, leaves attached and umbels attached.
  1. Don’t break the bulb up until just before eating or planting.
  1. Bulbils can be used as seed for subsequent crops or eaten on salad/stirred into sauces/on sandwiches.

Fred is proud to say “This year we are harvesting organic blue potatoes and they will be available at the Garlic Festival. (The USDA has found up to 35 different chemicals on non-organic potatoes). Our potatoes are heavy and nutrient-dense. Partner them with our garlic for the best garlic-mashed potatoes you’ve ever tasted – off the charts!”

basket of garlic

Grand Gorge Garlic at the Hudson Valley Garlic Festival in 2014

Fred is proud to say that “2015 is a banner year for Grand Gorge Garlic.”

I think we are very fortunate to have successful organic farms in New York, let’s support them at the Garlic Festival!

Asiatic garlic

Asiatic garlic. Picture by Grand Gorge Garlic and Maple Farm

Maple syrup by Grand Gorge Garlic and Maple Farm

Maple syrup by Grand Gorge Garlic and Maple

Maple syrup by Grand Gorge Garlic and Maple

A wooden bear sculpture with a chalk-board sign for maple syrup

I sampled the syrup and it is unbelievably good – not too sweet with an intense flavor!

gigantic garlic shaped balloon at the Hudson Valley Garlic Festival

A gigantic garlic balloon floats in the sky every year

The Saugerties Garlic Festival was recently voted the ‘Best Festival in the Hudson Valley’ by readers of Hudson Valley magazine. This is a huge achievement, especially as the festival is organized and run 100% by volunteers from the Saugerties Kiwanis club.

Bunches of garlic by Garlic Delite Farm

Bunches of garlic by Garlic Delite Farm

I spoke to Beth Bechtold who does PR for the festival and asked her why the festival is such as long-standing success. “We try to keep it family orientated and not overly commercialized. The vendors are independent businesses or small farms. There are no big retailers and there’s a good variety of music and entertainment. There will be four stages this year”

Fresh leeks by Earthy Mirth Farm

Fresh leeks by Earthy Mirth Farm

“Visitors come back year after year and know where to find their favorite vendors because repeat vendors are given the same booth every year.” This is very helpful, because there are thousands of people attending.

A scarecrow with a sign for garlic ice cream at Hudson Valley Garlic Festival

Try some of Guido’s delicious garlic ice cream!

The Saugerties Kiwanis club has a team of 45 people working on the Garlic Festival with a committee of 15. They start planning in January with regular monthly meetings.

garlic samples to taste by Six Cycles Farm at the Hudson Valley Garlic Festival

Six Cycles Farm offers garlic samples to try

Beth explained that “All the money raised at the Saugerties Garlic Festival goes to the local community to support various organizations and sports. These include the ice arena, the Boys and Girls Club, baseball facilities, educational scholarships, the food pantry, Christmas lights, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and the 4th of July fireworks. They also support several youth sports leagues.”

Bunches of Sweet Annie herb for sale by Eartthly Mirth Farm at the Hudson Valley Garlic Festival

Aromatic ‘Sweet Annie’ herb by Earthly Mirth Farm

What’s new for 2015? Beth told me that ‘I Love New York’ tourism will be there with an interactive booth. A new vendor will be here for the 2nd year with delicious Maine Lobster.”

a chalk board sign advertising garlic by Wild Shepherd Farm at the Hudson Valley Garlic Festival

Garlic by Wild Shepherd Farm -savor the flavors!

As always there will be a children’s craft tent where parents can leave their children in the capable hands of the local key Club for a while.

squash, dried flowers and cat toys by Marsh Meadow Farm at the Hudson Valley Garlic Festival

A variety of produce is available at the fair, including these cat toys, squash and dried flowers by Marsh Meadow Farm

Beth described how some people are surprised that no alcohol is sold “One year, a Russian TV station came up from NYC and interviewed me at the Garlic Festival. Then they went looking for garlic vodka and were surprised there wasn’t any!”

a large garlic-shaped balloon with the Kiwanis Club logo

Thank you to the Kiwanis Club for making the Garlic Festival happen year after year

The garlic festival is on Saturday September 26th from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM and Sunday 27th from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Admission is $10 at the gate, $7 in advance, reduced admission for seniors and children. Tickets can be purchased online here.

Andy and the Garlic Family at the Hudson Valley Garlic Festival

Andy and Garlic Family say “Hi!”

Nasturtium by Lynne and Richie Bittner, Wildflower Graphics

Nasturtium by Lynne and Richie Bittner, Wildflower Graphics

The Hudson Valley Garlic Festival takes place September 26th and 27th this year. In addition to the garlic farms, there are many independent vendors and craftspeople selling their beautiful artwork.

One of the vendors at the Hudson Valley Garlic Festival is ‘Wildflower Graphics’. They provide a selection of studio printed note cards, ceramic tiles, framed and mounted prints among other items with original illustrations of flowers based using the design language of the Arts and Crafts Movement. The original designs are produced by husband and wife team, Lynne and Richie Bittner.

Lupine by Lynne and Richie Bittner, Wildflower Graphics

Lupine by Lynne and Richie Bittner, Wildflower Graphics

Lynne explained producing each design is a long process and starts with her doing a line drawing. The drawing is developed into design which is scanned digitally. Then Lynne and Richie work together to add color and texture to produce the final digital image.

As a child, Lynne was always attracted to wildflowers, in her early 20s, purely by chance she came across the book ‘The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady’ which is a hand-written journal with watercolor studies of nature done by Edith Holden in 1906 in England and Scotland. Discovering the book was a transforming moment for Lynne and she began to teach herself to illustrate and watercolor wildflowers, though it took a while for her to actually pursue her dream of making a living by doing it. After a career doing custom carpentry and wanting a change, Lynne and Richie thought deeply about starting a business selling note cards. They followed their dream and founded Wildflower Graphics. Most of the illustrations are of wildflowers, but there are also a few illustrations of cultivated varieties as Lynne is a flower gardener as well.

Wild Ginger by Lynne and Richie Bittner, Wildflower Graphics

Wild Ginger by Lynne and Richie Bittner, Wildflower Graphics

Of the Garlic Festival, Lynne says “We always love being out among customers that appreciate what we do and enjoy the wonderful feedback from customers at the festival. There’s a festive atmosphere, people just love being there. The smell of garlic cooking and the entertainment, Morris dancing – the organizers do a great job.”

There will be some new designs at this year’s Garlic Festival! – stop by their booth and take a look.

Lynne and Richie are always on the lookout for additional retail outlets for their cards – if you have any suggestions please let them know via their website (click here).

Thistle by Lynne and Richie Bittner, Wildflower Graphics

Thistle by Lynne and Richie Bittner, Wildflower Graphics

Click here for more information about the Hudson Valley Garlic Festival.

Xeriscape garden

Xeriscape garden – photo by Donna Crawford

“I’m bringing a boatload of plants, I hope someone will want to buy them!” said Master Gardener, Barbara Bravo.  The Master Gardener Program of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County (CCEUC) will be hosting their 3rd Annual Plant Sale this Saturday, September 19 from 9am-noon at their Xeriscape Garden, located on the SUNY Ulster campus at 491 Cottekill Road in Stone Ridge.

The Plant Sale will offer an array of plants from the Xeriscape Garden itself, plus perennials, shrubs, trees and even houseplants grown by the Master Gardeners!  Proceeds benefit the CCEUC Master Gardener program.  Cash, check or credit cards (Visa or MasterCard) will be accepted at the sale, which will be held rain or shine.  For more information, contact Dona Crawford at 845-340-3990 ext. 335 or email

Also, at 10:00 am, join us for a free workshop to review and discuss how the Alpine Garden has changed this year.  This is one of many classes in the “Learning in the Garden” workshop series, held every third Saturday at the Xeriscape Garden, June through October.  Join us for the last workshop in the series on October 17 “Fall Planted Bulbs” to learn about planting bulbs in the fall for enjoyment in the spring!

The Xeriscape Garden is an interactive teaching tool in the selection of heat-tolerant waterwise plants, integrated pest management and alternative landscaping techniques.  Group and one-on-one free tours are also offered at the garden throughout the year.

Learn more about Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County’s community programs and events at  Stay connected to CCEUC-friend us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County provides equal program and employment opportunities.  Please contact the program office at 845-340-3990 if you have any special needs

Some great advice from Art Davidson about saving seed. He writes the ‘Papas Garden’ blog.

Part 1. An introduction to seed saving for beginners – click here for Papas Garden blog.

seed saving methods

Seed saving using ‘caging’ method.

Part 2. Explains the different methods for collecting seeds – click here for Papas Garden blog.

white tailed deer eating plants in a garden

White-tailed deer are common in the Hudson Valley and they often browse in gardens. Fencing off flower beds looks ugly and is expensive, deer repellents require constant re-application and are costly. So I decided to garden with plants deer don’t like to eat, hoping the deer would dine elsewhere.

I thought I’d share with you some of my favorite perennial plants that deer usually avoid eating. They are hardy in USDA climate zone 5.

For Spring

Lamium – A pretty ground cover for shade/part shade. The decorative leaves have silver, white or yellow patches. Flowers are small and pink or white. I really like the raspberry pink flowers on is this one, Lamium maculatum Chequers. Lamiums grow about 6″ tall.

deer resistant lamium plant


Dianthus – These plants are drought tolerant and great for xeriscape gardens.  The silvery foliage forms neat, dense clumps. There are many varieties and flowers can be white, pink or red. Some have a gorgeous ‘clove’ fragrance. This award-winning variety is ‘Firewitch’, it has magenta colored  flowers.

dianthus 'Fire Witch' has magenta flowers and is not eaten by deer

Dianthus ‘Fire Witch’

Creeping Phlox – An excellent ground cover with tiny pointed evergreen leaves and pink, purple or candy-striped flowers. Grows about 6″ tall and tolerates poor, dry soil. Bloom time is April – May.

creeping phlox is not deer food

Creeping Phlox

For Summer

Bearded Iris – This plant has attractive vertical spike-shaped leaves and large blooms. Thrives in full sun and well-drained soil. There are different sizes; tall, standard, dwarf and miniature. So many choices of flower color!

bearded iris plants are deer resistant

bearded iris are seldom eaten by deer

Bearded iris – this one is fragrant!

Coreopsis – Grows well in full sun but will tolerate partial shade. A native prairie and woodland plant. There are many different flower colors and forms., this one is called ‘Moonbeam’ it is an award-winning variety and I can see why, with pretty foliage and masses of yellow flowers. Bees love it! Easy to grow and trouble-free.

coreopsis moonbeam with yellow flowers

Coreopsis ‘Moonbeam’

Monarda – The leaves are fragrant and flowers come in shades of red, pink or purple. Recently, smaller varieties have been introduced and they can be grown in pots. Attractive to hummingbirds.

red monarda aka bee balm

Monarda looks fabulous when planted in large drifts

A single monarda flower

Monarda flower

Gaillardia –  A native prairie plant, it thrives in full sun, flowers can be red, orange or yellow. This one is ‘Gaillardia Globin’ it’s about 12″ tall, a neat mound of foliage and smothered in flowers. Great for the front of the border.

red and yellow gaillardia flowers are never eaten by deer

Gaillardia, also known as ‘Blanket Flower’

For Fall

Stachys – Grown as a foliage plant, the beautiful silvery leaves are covered in soft hair. Does well in full sun. This one is called ‘Fuzzy Wuzzy’, it grows about 15″ tall, the flower spikes are about 20″. Great for hot dry xeriscape areas. In the spring, the tiny purple flowers attract bumble bees.

stachys aka lambs ears


stachys flowers

Stachys flower spikes

Aster – Flower colors are white, pink and purple. Attractive to butterflies. Sun to part shade. I grow this small aster called ‘Pink Dome’, it grows to 12″. Really lovely flowers!

pink aster flowers


Rudbeckia – Unfortunately deer do very occasionally eat the flower buds, but the plants will produce more flowers later in the season. The seed heads are a source of food for goldfinches and other seed eating birds. This one is an award-winning garden classic, ‘Rudbeckia Goldsturm’. It grows to about 2′ tall and is covered in bright yellow flowers in late summer/early fall.

rudbeckia flowers


rudbeckia flowers with butterfly

Rudbeckia flowers provide nectar for butterflies

I’m all about ‘low maintenance gardening’ and love these deer resistant perennials because they save me work, time and money. I don’t have to add fencing or apply chemical deer deterrents. At first I felt frustrated by the restricted selection but not any more. After a few seasons, it’s obvious that deer find these beautiful flowers inedible and the buffet is closed. (I do still miss roses though!).

If you’ve had success with a plant that’s not included here, add a comment and share your knowledge with the Hudson Valley gardening community!

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