Dana McHenry explains the importance of mulching to a packed crowd at the Harvest Tasting and Garlic Forum at Territorial Seed Co. in Cottage Grove on Saturday, Sept. 22. Aliya Hall/The Creswell Chronicle
Garlic was in the spotlight as Territorial Seed Co. in Cottage Grove hosted their monthly forum along with a harvest tasting. With the season for planting garlic arriving, the team at Territorial Seed wanted to give customers tips on the best way to grow the crop.
”Garlic is a big deal,” Dana McHenry, retail store lead, said. ”We educate because we want people to be successful in their own gardens and in growing their own food.”
The forum started at 11 a.m. and focused on how to grow garlic. The presentation taught attendees the different types of garlic and the best way to grow the crop.
The main takeaways from the forum were: There are six main garlic types to grow in two categories, hard and soft neck; garlic is a long season crop and won’t be ready to harvest until early spring; don’t plant garlic next to legumes because they compete for nitrogen; plant garlic by the end of October to keep them from dying in the first frost; plant the tip of the clove one to two inches below soil surface, leaving on the paper for protection; harvest when the tops start to brown but there are three to four green leaves; and after harvest cure the garlic for three to four weeks in a well-ventilated, dark and cool area. For more tips or questions, associates at Territorial Seed are available in their store at 20 Palmer Ave. in Cottage Grove.
Last year, the store did something similar at a smaller scale. They brought roasted garlic to an art walk and answered community questions. Although it was received well, the team wanted to expand to include more vegetables from their trials in the tasting.
”It’s a rare opportunity to taste what seed companies are pulling out of trials,” Farren Johns, event coordinator, said. ”Territorial Seed has one of the largest trials in the nation.”
The forums are monthly, and have been happening for a year and a half. McHenry and Johns have been working as a team to host more events, and the forums have had a positive response.
”They’ve been growing,” McHenry said. ”We started with five people, and then more and more joined. Eventually, we’ll need a new place to do it.”
Johns said that events like these are an opportunity for the team to meet the customers and form a connection. She said she wants customers to feel welcome, especially because the store is hitting its 40th year next year.
”We’ve been here a long time,” she said. ”People get older and a new generation is coming in, and we want to remind people we’re here. It’s fun to be part of (the store), and it brings diversity to the community as well. It’s a unique thing to do in Cottage Grove.”
Attendees weren’t just local; Johns said she spoke to someone from Coos Bay, and there were also sisters who took a day trip down from Washington.
Kathy Hammersley and Terri Kaufman found out about the event through Facebook, and as new gardeners wanted to support the company where they bought their beet seeds. They joked that they learned from the event that they didn’t want to grow garlic, because they belong to community gardens and the growing period is too long, but the information about caring for their soil was useful.
Territorial Seed is an online and mail order company, which is why their store is known nationwide, McHenry said. They have a guest book for travelers, and enjoy seeing more foot traffic.
”We have fun stuff going on,” Johns said, ”and it’s fun for us too. We like seeing stuff come up from the trials and experiencing it.”