Fall Garlic Planting

Hardneck Garlic Bulbs

Walk into any decent Italian restaurant and take a deep breath. That warm spicy aroma tingling your nose is quite likely garlic. The incomparable deep flavor makes Italian dishes renowned, but also enhances any number of other recipes.

You can bring this culinary delight into your own kitchen through bulbs of garlic purchased at a box store, often imported from China, but why do that when garlic is so easy to grow?

If you are interested in growing your own garlic, now is the time to order. It is somewhat counter-intuitive, but garlic is one of those plants designed to spend winter nestled in the cold earth. 

How to Choose Garlic

There are two basic types of garlic and a number of varieties within those types. Like any other plant, the specific varieties have different advantages in terms of flavor, storage, etc.

Hard Neck Garlic

These bulbs of garlic are different from the kind you normally find available in the store. The bulb forms a hard center stem that grows up through the bulb to support the leaves. When you open the bulb, there are typically 6 or 8 cloves of garlic around this center stem. The cloves are full and large. Varieties include Music, Bogatyr, and German Red.

Soft Neck Garlic

This garlic does not form the hard center stem. Softer leaves shoot out of the middle and many cloves form around this center. The outer cloves are reasonably sized with smaller ones near the center. Even the outer cloves do not attain the size of the hard neck types mentioned above. Varieties include Inchelium Red and Burgundy.

Soft neck garlic can be stored in braids by leaving the stems attached and braiding decoratively to hang.


After you receive your garlic bulbs, either through a mail order supplier or somewhere local, do not remove the papery outer cover. Store the bulbs in a cool, dry place until ready to plant, then peel off the outer covering and separate the cloves, leaving each clove cloaked in its paper cover. 

Choose a sunny location that is well drained with rich soil.  You will need 6-8 inches of space per plant. Push each clove into the soil approximately 2 inches deep with the pointed end up. Cover with soil and mulch.

In Central Illinois, mid-October is a typical planting time, with harvest the following June.

If you have questions about planting garlic or any of the other crops grown at Five Feline Farm, you can contact us through social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) or email. In the meantime, be sure to check out our online Mercantile for other available products.

How To Shop The Farmer’s Market

Farmer’s Market

A Farmer’s Market can be overwhelming. Who has the best product? Who has the best prices? How do I know I am getting a good value for my dollar?

This post will answer your questions. 

Get to know the vendors.

Ask questions about their products. Growers and market vendors should be able to answer your questions. Some questions you can ask are: “When was this picked? Where was it grown? Has it been sprayed? Is it a GMO seed?” Based on answers to these questions, you can make your decision about what to buy.

If this is your first visit to a market, do a quick sweep around the market to see what is available and prices. In small markets, prices will usually be similar with only a bit of variance based on the variety or quantity available. Larger markets may have a more significant price difference among vendors. If you are a regular customer, you will know what to expect from your favorite vendors.

After a quick perusal of what is available, go back and make your purchases. One caution however, vendors may have limited quantities of some items. If you have an established relationship with particular vendors based on their reputation for quality and price, you may want to shop those vendors first.  

Learn what is in season.

Eating seasonally will not only provide the most nutritious bang for your buck, but also the best flavor. Local produce has a limited availability due to growing conditions and climate.

For example, you can find tomatoes in Illinois in May, but these are not likely to have been grown locally. The best tomatoes in Central Illinois are available from early July through the end of August, sometimes even stretching into mid-September. These tomatoes will be fully vine-ripened, bursting with tomato flavor.

Shop a Farmer’s Market first.

Above all, find a local farmer’s market and shop there before the big box stores. Produce will be fresher and there are other some great finds like honey, balms, craft items and much more.  

Plus you have the opportunity to develop relationships with great people. What could be better?

If you would like to read more about how we found a community at the 18th Street Farmer’s Market, check out this book: The Long Road to Market. And don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Groundhogs in the Garden

Every garden has its pest and ours at this moment is groundhogs. If you don’t know what a groundhog is, think beaver with a short stubby furry tail. Groundhogs are a member of the rodent family. 

They get the hog part of their name honestly. They are hogs when it comes to munching on tender garden plants. Imagine how disheartening it is to go to the garden early in the morning and find the sweet potato leaves gnawed to the stem. Or bean plants nibbled down to the ground. 

We put up a very temporary and lightweight fencing to slow down entrance to the garden. That got us through about a month. Now the varmints are plowing right through that fence and it is time to get serious.

Many recommend shooting or trapping and relocating, but we are choosing other methods.


Our first line of attack is a healthy dose of cayenne pepper around their favorite munchies. 


Next we have installed whirly gigs and scarecrows to scare them away.


But the big guns is a wire mesh fence with solid wood frames all the way around the garden. Of course they may tunnel under, but they will find their holes full of cayenne. 

Fence under construction

2019 Battle of the Groundhogs is on!

It’s Tomato Time!

What will you do with that first ripe tomato?

You know the one. The warm, juicy, full of tomato goodness one fresh from the garden. The one that holds all the promise of the season’s bounty just by changing from green to red or gold or purple or striped.

Will it be a large slicing tomato with red juice dripping down your arm from your bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich? Or maybe a medium yellow slice with the slightest dusting of sea salt nestled next to a mound of cottage cheese?

My favorite is a large plate of alternating red and yellow slices, mingled with wedges of fresh mozzarella cheese and topped with shredded fresh basil leaves. Drizzle the whole thing with a peppery olive oil, balsamic glaze, a quick twist from the pepper mill and a sprinkle of salt.

There is nothing else to say but “Yum”.

For more about Five Feline Farm, head over to our Welcome page or any of our social media: Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Thanks for stopping by.