A Garlic Story

Garlic is a crop for which we expend a lot of energy. Perhaps because it is so medicinal and so potent and so popular, and grows out of time with the rest of the crops we treat as annuals, it gets special attention. I write this as I am immersed in the smell of garlic drying in our Excalibur food dryer, in preparation for becoming garlic powder. Friday 4 students from Worcester Polytechnic Institute came, and added to Clare, Ari, Stu and Deb and I, we were able to get the garlic planted by 10 am just as the rain was starting to come down fast. But let’s back up for a year, because one thing I have learned over the years is that proper prior planning (I will leave the rest of it blank!)…

Early in 2021 we tarped the large section of the garden that would be sweet corn.  In May we took off the tarps and planted the corn seeds into the “clean” soil. After one quick weeding with a hoe and another hand weeding (I still remember the Friday in the rain when Clare, Stu and I were fast pacing it down the pathways on  hands and knees ripping out weeds after we had harvested lambs quarters and purslane for CSA shares) we planted a multi-species cover crop in amongst the corn plants. While the corn was in the ground we used weekly nutritional sprays to support maximum health (about 15 weeks).

Later, we harvested and ate the tasty corn which had an astoundingly small number of corn ear worms, and mowed down the whole business. Next we ran some turkey tractors through the beds, leaving the birds on any particular piece of ground for one day to eat and defecate. Then we planted a winterkill cover crop mix of oats, field peas and daikon radish and let that grow for about 6 weeks. Last week we came in and mowed the field, did some physical removal of corn stalks, and other detritus and then after hoeing the beds by hand decided to come in with our tractor mounted ripper to make four row beds that were a little deeper and more consistent. For those who care about these kinds of things, this was the only time that we had the tractor or any implement on any of our fields this year. The stubble was significant enough that we thought this intervention wise.

After splitting and planting the garlic at about 6 inch spacing in 12” spaced rows we covered the cloves with soil with Rogue hoes. Next week we will lay a super thick layer of hay on top as mulch (with cardboard and old Natural Farmers in the pathways). In my ever evolving attempts to increase organic matter, build carbon stores and maximize photosynthesis throughout the year, I share this example of how I would like to integrate as much diversity, fertility, and photosynthetic capacity into a field as we are able in a growing season. Not all of our growing areas received this level of attention, but that is our goal moving forward.

Our garlic was phenomenal this year after following a similar procedure in 2020 after peppers using as much in the way of cover crops, mulch, and foliars as possible. This garden location right below the house is blessed with rich organic matter (somewhere around 10-12) and isn’t dogged like so much of our growing space with less than ideal sunlight and excess moisture in rainy times.

The ripper.

Planting garlic.  (click on the picture to see video)


CSA Update – Week 4 of 5
Last Week – Monday pick up only on November 22
Week 4 best guess of what we will get
We were barely able to give out one lettuce or endive each last week. The frost took too much of a toll. Jerusalem artichokes –didn’t happen last week. We dug them up to find just a very little harvest. Sorry. The season is winding down and there is less available to pick. We have been reasonably well blessed with the weather for November, but the bounty will have to wait again for 2022– average bag size on week three was 7 lbs. Look forward next week to onions, one last garlic, celeriac (a must for winter soups), and all of the rest of the greens that we can garner from the fields.

  • 3 leeks
  • Celery
  • Turnips
  • Beets
  • radishes
  • Bunch of carrots
  • 1 Asian of one sort or another- bok choi, tatsoi, Chinese cabbage
  • Kale
  • Parsley
  • Sage
  • 4 pears

Last week’s share.

Personal Inspiration
Walk Through Grief with Grace

As you may or may not know, our daughter Ellen’s first husband died of cancer (coming up on 14 years ago). She was recently interviewed for a podcast called “Walk Through Grief with Grace” on her experience of healing from this major loss – which was multifaceted, but largely happened through connecting with nature and opening to the Grace that exists all around us at all times.
If you are in a grief process, or know anyone who is, this might be an inspiring conversation to bring hope, perspective and guidance about the very real experience of grief that we all encounter at various junctures in life. How do we heal? How can we live life fully again? Where can we find guidance for how to orient our life after a major loss? All these questions are touched on in this podcast interview.

Here’s how to find the interview.
Search for the Walk Through Grief With Grace podcast on Apple Podcasts on Monday Nov. 15th.


Health tip
Autophagy – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v5xBE1zvwUY

I have been hearing about intermittent fasting for some time from many different sources, and decided to take the plunge last week end. Though the last hour between 9 and 10 am has been a hard one, where I start to run at the mouth and lose a little focus, at a week in I plan to make this a long term commitment in my eating habits. I wonder if there is anyone who doesn’t have food issues of one sort or another. This practice of going for an extended period of time each day without food to allow the body to do its cleanup work uninterrupted by digestion can open us to a lot of new awarenesses about our relationship to food and to life.


Pre-Order your 2022 CSA Share
Thanks for the continual stream of subscriptions for next year. Your commitment to our solvency as a family, and more and more a community farm, inspires us to more agricultural aspirational heights.

We are offering pre-orders for 2022 CSA shares now. Put down a full payment, half payment, or a $150 deposit to guarantee your spot in our 2022 CSA. We may raise prices in 2022 for our CSA shares, but we haven’t made a determination of that yet. If you order in this calendar year and put down a down payment you can be assured of this price. Order here: https://mhof.net/csa-order-form/


Evaluations for the 2021 Summer CSA
They are coming in well with only a couple of days in your inboxes. Summer shareholders please take a moment to fill this out and let us know your thoughts. I will digest the results and get them back out to you.


Turkeys sold out
The turkeys get louder and more excited about their remaining time on this earth as we work with them to move their mobile pens each day. Their last week on this earth will be spent on some of the finest pasture that we have available on the farm.  Call 978-355-2853 to be added to the waiting list.  I will call you by Tuesday night, the 23rd to let you know if we have a bird for you.


Farm store hours
M-F – 12-1 pm
Tuesday 5-7
Friday 5-7
Always call ahead to be sure of supply.

Available this week

  1. Free range organic eggs at $8/dozen – we newly added free choice kelp to their now full farm free range lifestyle.
  2. frozen certified organic range raised roaster chickens in the 6-8 lb. range – $7/lb. – Only 10 left.
  3. dandelion, holy basil, burdock, yarrow and yellow dock tincture in 2 ounce bottles – $12
  4. frozen certified organic applesauce – just the apples cooked down in water – $7/quart
  5. 2 ounce jars of comfrey salve – $8 each
  6. 2 ounce jars of hemp salve – $10 each
  7. garlic powder – $10/2 ounce
  8. Lavender soap – $6/5 ounce bar


Farm Doins

We seem to be having larger and more diverse numbers of folks stopping by to help out these days. Sunday Brendan was back to help us slaughter the old layers. This week new and extra folks at the lunch table included Skyler from Stetson, McMillan whose school was back to virtual because of a Covid scare, Ruben from NOFA who was doing research and analysis for a compaction grant, Chuk back finishing up near the front stairs (we had a short birthday celebration for him (he turned 40), Barbara, a new working shareholder from Wilbraham, and David, Liv, Kirsten and Jonathan from WPI who came to work after doing a zoom with me and Jack last week to learn about community farms. Raffi and Doodle had the day off on Thursday and came for lunch too. Old NOFA friend Kay stopped by for some hoeing on Wednesday. Saturday morning, Alicia brought dad Tom to help out with our Saturday chores. When I think about big farm lunches at haying time growing up, I realize that I have truly moved into paradise. This is a state of affairs so vividly and beautifully documented by the farmer poet and author Wendell Berry. Give him a read if you haven’t.

Anthony and John got the dog house reroofed, we had another successful fall CSA distribution, Clare and I easily moved the pigs to their last pasture location before they go to meet their maker this upcoming Wednesday and we burned a bunch of wood and paper bag detritus that was building up. We got the garlic in! And we made two 5 gallon pots of pear sauce and cooked and pureed all the rest of the funky winter squash. Garlic powder rounded out the week along with a large batch of chicken stock.

In other news Skippy didn’t kill a single chicken this week and only spent a short period of time on a chain. Additionally she only terrorized one shareholder who came after dark for pick up!

It dawned on me this week after talking to the WPI kids that we have become a community farm, if not by the usual definition which includes public land, boards of directors, etc. It is kind of nice.


Upcoming events –
Decolonizing Environmental Thought – https://bio4climate.org/?s=Decolonizing+Environmental+Thought – Monday at 6
Biodiversity for a Livable Climate always has an interesting speaker series


Clare taking a break to help McMillan with her knitting.

Skyler took a break from eating to pet a chicken.

Pigs enjoying their new digs.

Nothing like a bonfire to entertain a couple of pyromaniacs.

John and Anthony cutting a new roof for the dog house.

Barbara helping in the leeks.

Lunch is always fun!

The front entrance facelift continues!

Ruben taking core samples.

Doodle helping water the turkeys.

Raffi rolling up the twine.

It turns out Tom is good with computers and I am good at cutting pairs so we switched!

That was great gingerbread and pears, Clare.  (click on picture to watch video)

Pear sauce and cooked pureed squash for the freezer.

Stu holds court with the students while making garlic powder as Ari looks on.