MADISON COUNTY – As Halloween nears, you can guarantee Dracula won’t be hanging out anywhere near Linson Road in southwestern Madison County.
The legendary bane of the vampire count would smell the garlic from miles away at Lorie and Jeff Greene’s gourmet garlic farm.
After selling their home and business in Wilmington, the couple spent a year living in downtown Columbus, but quickly realized the city life wasn’t for them. In 2013, the Greenes purchased the rural property to start a simpler life.
They dubbed their new property “Greene Acres Farm” — a reference to the 1960s television show starring Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor, as the Douglases, who moved from Manhattan’s bustling city life to a country farm.
But the couple wanted something more — something to grow in the nutrient-rich dirt.
Lorie researched what crops could be grown on a small, fertile plot of land. The hands-down choice was garlic.
“It piqued our interest,” Jeff said.
They found a garlic grower, an 80-something garlic farmer in the Cleveland area.
“He was very spry,” Jeff said.
The Greenes bought 400 pounds of garlic from him. Five varieties are called “hard necks,” for the stiffness of the stem and a soft neck, whose stem Jeff likens to a green onion.
Those garlic bulbs contain approximately eight cloves which were separated and then planted on one acre of ground. Lorie laid down black plastic for weed control, incised the plastic and planted the cloves one by one last fall.
Jeff said the plant needs the cold provided by Ohio winters for its growing cycle.
“Freezing is necessary in the growing process,” Jeff said. “It needs to be in 40 under-freezing days.”
Garlic seed is planted in October, about the same time their neighbors are harvesting corn and beans.
It sits dormant in the earth until the warmth of spring allows it to grow. The garlic stem, like all plants, produces a flower, which is called a scape. The Greens pinch off the scapes, which channels the plant’s energy back to the bulb for larger growth.
Jeff said the scapes are considered a delicacy.
Harvest takes place in July. From their 400 pounds of garlic planted, the Greenes harvested 2,000 pounds for an increase of five fold. Garlic is not attractive to nuisance animals.
The Greenes have created bunches of their harvest and hung them on wires stretched across the width of their barn. While they have the option to sell their crop to restaurants, gourmands, and at farmers’ markets, their primary goal is to sell their crop as seed crop for planting this fall.
“The goal is to sell seed garlic and show people how to grow it,” Jeff said.
They will go through their crop, select the largest cloves for planting and relegate the smaller ones to other uses. One is to dehydrate the less desirable cloves and grind them into garlic powder.
Of course, eating garlic and garlic-flavored foods are considered healthy. Garlic is known for its medicinal benefits.
Jeff noted their garlic provider, the 80-something man, consumed it regularly.
“He said, ‘garlic breath is better than no breath,’” Jeff said.
The Greenes are open to visits to anyone interested in growing gourmet garlic, either in a residential or commercial setting. Visit their website: www.greeneacresfamilyfarm.com.
Dean Shipley can be reached at 740-852-1616, ext. 1617, on Facebook at Dean Shipley or via Twitter @DeanAShipley.