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Garlic—Still Time to Plant It If You Can Find “Some Good Stuff”
by Art Drysdale
by Art Drysdale

email: art@artdrysdale.com

Art Drysdale, a life-long resident of Toronto and a horticulturist well known all across Canada, is now a resident of Parksville, British Columbia on Vancouver Island, just north of Nanaimo. He has reno-vated an old home and has a new garden there. His radio gardening vignettes are heard in south-western Ontario over radio station Easy 101 FM out of Tillsonburg at 2 PM weekdays.

Art also has his own website at http://www.artdrysdale.com


November 4, 2012

Above, typical Porcelain garlic; photo courtesy Gourmet Garlic Gardens. Below, in a recent portrait by artist Milé Murtanovski, Ted Maczka is seen with his ‘shawl’ of garlic.

Until I met Ted Maczka back about 1987, during his annual visit to the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair (RAWF) in Toronto, I had not been a fan of garlic, particularly the stronger types. But Ted, who was (and still is) the Fish Lake Garlic Man, changed all that and I began having him as a major guest on my radio programmes annually in October.

Ted used to grow dozens of different types of garlic at his farm at Demorestville (south and west of Belleville, Ontario) and by this time each year he would be virtually sold out of most of the popular types.

I checked with him on Friday last week, and learned that the same applies this year, although anyone wishing to phone him for information will be more than happy with his answers to your questions. His telephone number is 613-476-8030. He actually lives at a retirement home just a few kilometres from his farm and at age 85 he still drives to the farm and works there for a few hours each afternoon. Actually, he takes Sunday afternoons off! He told me he does have a few garlic bulbs still available, but only a few. He added that there were some wild garlic bulbs available that could produce “anything” and he might be willing to sell some of these. But, don’t be shy to call him just for information.

One of his favourite garlic hybrids is a Rocambole known generally as Porcelain. It is white garlic with some reddish stripes. It generally does not produce any seeds, but does produce a maximum number of bulbils which is good not only for the commercial grower, but also for home gardeners. He tells me that because it is a soft neck type, it multiplies better. Ted has had a single bulb of Porcelain weigh in at 230 grams (about a half pound)!

Ted has been working and researching garlic now for 35 years. In 1971 he bought the farm near Demorestville and by 1983 he was ready to take the bus to Toronto and display some of his now famous garlic at the top agricultural fair in the country. He could not afford accommodation at the RAWF and so just left the garlic, and labels to be displayed under glass. He told me that by the time he returned some days later his garlic had all been stolen!

In addition to exhibiting his garlic, and talking to the attending throngs at the RAWF, Ted for years was invited to attend the famous Hudson Valley Garlic Festival, in Saugerties New York. This festival is sponsored by the Kiwanis Club there, and garlic lovers attend from all over the U.S. and Canada. It is held during the last full weekend of September each year. It is a huge event, and if you are at all interested in any aspect of garlic, you should think of attending next year. Saugerties is located just off the New York State Thruway, at exit 20 (Mile marker 101).

You might also be interested to know that prior to buying the farm, soon after he came to Canada from Poland, he worked in Toronto, on the infamous Avro Arrow airplane project—not out at the Malton plant but in the western Toronto suburbs. He left, disappointed and dejected, as Prime Minister John Diefenbaker was announcing the total scrapping of the project in February 1959.

Once he had the farm he got very interested in garlic while observing the amount of imported bulbs that were being sold in Canada. Knowing of the ability to grow good garlic in his native Poland, and that climate and growing conditions were similar in the two countries, he decided to learn all he could about the plant and start growing and promoting it.

Garlic has been used for centuries as a folk remedy and in herbal medicine, to treat the common cold; there is new evidence that it can help manage high cholesterol levels and is a powerful antibiotic, says Ted.

“If you're getting a sore throat or a cold, chew a raw clove of garlic,” Ted Maczka says. “It will take the sore throat away. If it comes back, chew another clove of garlic.”

The rest is history as many like to say!

It was in 2004 that he moved to the nearby retirement home where there are less than a dozen fellow residents. Obviously with the huge garlic bulb on his car, he is easily recognized all around town!

Now what about garlic in your back yard? Did I mention that NOW is the time to plant garlic in your garden? And, while many will describe strict conditions for the growth of garlic, Ted does not necessarily see it that way. One thing that is clear, garlic loves a constantly wet and warm soil, full sun and this past season provided just that in southern Ontario. The exception is the final four weeks prior to harvesting when the soil should be as dry as possible. He usually harvests his around mid-July

The important thing about drying garlic after the harvest is to do it in a full sun location but the garlic itself should not be exposed to the sun.

And, if you have little room for garlic, you can do what Ted does now, even more extensively than he did in the past. He says he cannot bend over much now, so plants a lot more garlic in various containers!

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