Celebrate Garlic Around B.C. With a Number of Awesome Festivals

Garlic is good

Credit: Carol Pope

Be warned – all those visiting my garden are put to work! Here is Debbie harvesting garlic grown in a deer-frequented non-irrigated back corner of the yard.

Embrace garlic this year both in your garden and at festivals across the province

There are many great reasons to celebrate garlic: It’s easy to grow and healthful. For those of us growing in deer country, it’s proven (in my yard, anyway, for the last two years) to be a deer-resistant food crop. Planted in the fall and harvested in late July or August, it needs little care and can grow almost forgotten in some far-off corner. When dry August hits, it’s time to avoid watering your garlic anyway, in anticipation of harvest, so drought isn’t a problem. Meanwhile, all through the year, garlic deters pests from your garden, needs little space and looks tidy as can be. Could any crop be more cooperative?

Come fall when it’s time to plant, that’s easy too. Just gently separate the bulbs into cloves immediately prior to planting. Plant 10 cm (2 in.) down and 40 cm (8 in.) apart with the pointy tip up. Don’t bother planting the smallest cloves – save those for dinner. Big cloves grow into big bulbs and are your best picks for planting. Go ahead and mulch your garlic crop when you are done – it’s going to be in the ground a long time and will look much nicer with a good layer of leaves or straw to keep things snug and weed-free. (For more tips on growing garlic, check out this informative and inspiring garlic website.)

Finally, with its large, silky-smooth pointed cloves, planting garlic is tactile and fun to share with children. And don’t forget to let them do the harvesting 10 months later!

Delicious cooked and raw, research indicates this miracle food has natural antibacterial, antiviral, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and it’s loaded with manganese, tryptophan, selenium, calcium, phosphorus, copper, protein and vitamins B6, C and B1.

Garlic Festivals popping up around B.C.

I repeat: there are many reasons to celebrate this incredibly healthful and helpful gift to our gardens and tables. Which is why garlic festivals are cropping up all over B.C. and beyond this late summer and fall.

“More and more B.C. gardeners and growers are realizing how wonderful it is to grow garlic,” says Niki Smith, who along with her husband, Neale, coordinates the wildly successful Pender Harbour Garlic Festival that takes place at the Lions Park in Pender Harbour – this year on Saturday and Sunday, August 20 to 21.

“This fundraiser for the Lions Club has become a music fest as much as a garlic fest,” says Nikki. For a $5 gate fee, participants can enjoy an outdoor concert featuring Juno-winners Valdy, Joel Fafard and Penny Lang, as well as Larry Cook & The Bluesmasters, Angie McCaulay with Dave Groom, 20-year-old vocalist Katherine Rowlands (my daughter ☺) and many more.

For the kids, there are horseback and wagon rides, face-painting and horseshoe pitching. Meanwhile, everyone is welcome to stock up on fresh organic garlic as well as savour the many garlic-inspired gourmet treats available from food vendors. And for gardeners? Gorgeous organic garlic perfect for planting, says Nikki, plus an on-site expert who will answer all our garlicky gardening questions.

Farther north, on the bank of the Shuswap River in North Okanagan, The 2nd Annual Grindrod Garlic Festival at Grindrod Park, Sunday, August 21, features local garlic, artisans, garlic contests, and tons of fun for the kids.

Then at Lac La Hache. The South Cariboo Garlic Festival Saturday and Sunday, August 27 and 28, promises a “stinkin’-good” time!

Next, on the shores of Slocan Lake, the 19th Annual Hills Garlic Festival in New Denver, B.C., Sunday, September 11, features 160+ vendors, live entertainment and more great garlicky grub.

And raising money for the Chilliwack Schools garden program is the First Annual Chilliwack Garlic Festival, Saturday and Sunday, September 17 and 18, at Fantasy Farms.

Or for those a little farther afield, here are 10 other top garlic fests.