Archives for posts with tag: Saugerties NY


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!


Platte Creek Maple Farm, Saugerties NY. March 2014.

The Sugar Shack

From a distance I could smell the maple syrup in the air and see the clouds of steam in the sky. This was the second ‘weekend open house’ for the Platte Creek Maple Farm, owned by Chris Genson and Pete Lavalle.


Platte Creek Maple Farm is a member of the New York State Maple Producers Association

During the open house visitors were invited to observe the syrup production process and enjoy a scrumptious breakfast of pancakes with dark syrup. The process is fascinating and because of the limited harvest period (six to eight weeks), it requires long hours, dedication and hard physical work. Pete patiently explained the steps …

Maple syrup collection tap.

For a healthy tree with a 12-17″ diameter trunk, one spile (tap) is used. For an 18″ diameter trunk, no more than two spiles

Spiles (taps) are inserted into holes in the maple tree trunk.  The sap is clear and runny like water and it flows into a tubing system or bucket.

collecting maple syrup in metal bucket.

Metal sap bucket attached to trunk, the lid keeps rain and insects out

External temperature variations enable the sap to be harvested. When the temperature is above freezing, pressure inside the tree forces the sap out of the spile. When the temperature drops below freezing, internal pressure drops, suction develops and the roots take up water which replenishes the sap.  These fluctuating temperatures last about eight weeks during February and March.

maple syrup collection buckets and gravity tubing.

About 1,200 trees are tapped on the Lavalle Family farm

When the trees form buds the harvesting is over because the sap develops an unpleasant ‘buddy’ taste.   Red or Black Maple trees can be used, but the Sugar Maple has the highest sugar content, best flavor and longest season.

maple syrup collection using gravity tubing.

Gravity tubing collects between 10 and 20 gallons of sap per tree

A system of gravity tubing is in place. Gravity draws the sap down the tubes towards a stainless steel collection tank at the rear of the sugar shack.

maple syrup collection tank at the rear of the sugar shack.

You can see the blue vacuum pump atop the collection tank

The blue vacuum pump above the stainless steel collection tank increases the quantity and speed of syrup extraction. When there is about 1,000 gallons of sap in the tank, the evaporation process starts.

Firewood at Platte Creek Maple Farm, Saugerties NY. March 2014.

Firewood is harvested at the farm

Wood is used to heat the Evaporator which boils the maple tree sap.

sugar shack sign.

This style of sign is classic Hudson Valley

Inside the Sugar Shack…

reverse-osmosis machine.

Reverse-Osmosis machine

Behind these doors, a reverse-osmosis process forces the sap at high pressure through a membrane and removes some of the water. A pre-heater warms the sap before it goes into the evaporator.

Wood burning sap evaporator.

It’s nice and warm inside the sugar shack!

The evaporator boils the sap, removes water and concentrates the solids (primarily sugar). Sap is about 2% sugar –  syrup must contain 66% to 67% sugar on the Brix scale (a measure of the sugar content of an aqueous solution)

Adding firewood to the sap evap

Pete Lavalle adding firewood to maintain temperature

The correct boiling temperature for the sap varies by day according to the barometric pressure.  When I visited the optimum  boiling temperature was 218.5 degrees F.

Bucket of maple syrup.

This bucket will be filled with syrup from the evaporator.

maple syrup production equipment.

Maple syrup production equipment.

The sugar content of the sap determines how many gallons of syrup can be produced from it. For example, if the sap has 2% sugar it would take 43 gallons of sap to produce one gallon of syrup.

maple syrup Finisher.

Maple syrup finisher

The bucket of syrup is poured into the finisher.

maple syrup filter.

Maple syrup filter

The syrup is filtered.

maple syrup grading samples.

Maple syrup grading samples

These color standards are used to grade the syrup – the darker the syrup, the more intense the flavor.

holding tank for maple syrup.

Pre-bottling holding tank

Syrup is stored in bulk and then bottled in glass or plastic  containers.

bottle of pure maple syrup.

Pure Maple Syrup is considered an organic product and is rich in amino acids and minerals

This bottle contains Grade A Dark Amber syrup.  Dark Amber has the strongest flavor – a sweet caramel-maple flavor. It is great on pancakes or french toast and is the preferred syrup for making baked goods. Delicious!

Plattekill Creek, Platte Creek Maple Farm in S

Lovely clear water from the snow melt

The Plattekill Creek runs through the farm. It was named by the first European settlers who were from the Netherlands. ‘Plattekill’ translates as ‘flat creek bed’ in the Middle Dutch language.

Platte Creek Maple Syrup sign.

When the harvesting season is over the taps and tubes are removed, cleaned and stored for the following year.

Platte Creek Maple Farm

808 Glasco Turnpike, Saugerties New York

Tel: 845 853 4240


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  • Would you like to try some Platte Creek Maple Farm syrup? Adams Fairacre Farms or other local stores carry a great selection.
  • If you are in New York during February/March, check out the Maple Weekend events. There are about 150 producers who host open weekends






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