My great grandfather Grant Pendleton settled in northwest Ohio and took up farming. Granddad Cal Pendleton farmed too, but he was also a businessman. He bought and sold cattle, and he owned the bar in downtown Bryan. Family legend has it that one night a fellow in the bar said he wanted to sell a farm on County Road C in Williams County. My grandfather bought the farm that night in 1946.
Later, my dad Rex Pendleton bought the farm from my grandfather. Now, my father has passed away, and my brother and I own the farm. I am the last of anyone in our family that is still working on the farm. Jobs in town generally pay better.
The farm has really nice soil. It is a bit too sandy and maintaining nutrients is challenging, but it is so nice to work. Each year, I have added lots of organic matter, and now I can work it with my bare hands. My dad always said, "With enough rain, that farm could grow hair on a billiard ball." A bit of cliche, but the place is very productive.
It is also very beautiful. The barn sits up on a hill, up a long driveway on the south side of the road. The north face of the hill is covered with sugar maples and walnut trees. Sloping to the south is Miller Creek, which just about cuts the farm in half. My brother and I planted the back fields, on the other side of the creek, to native prairie grasses.
I have been growing gourmet hardneck garlic on the farm since 1999. I started with certified organic garlic seed and have planted my own seed stock back each year. Presently, I grow 10 different varieties of garlic and several varieties of shallots, including French Gray Shallots, for market. I have never used chemical pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers.
Hardneck garlic is planted in the fall and harvested in mid-summer. In my case, I plant in October or November and harvest in July. The garlic spends the winter in mulched beds and shoots up in early spring. The rows of green leaves give a hint of what is developing below the soil. In June, the garlic sends up a flower shoot. The flower stalks are called scapes and are great to eat. The taste is of fresh, green garlic.
The garlic and shallots are harvested in July, then hung to dry for a month. New crops are available mid-August. This is truly an artisan effort. The crop is hand-crafted, with care. A labor of love. I'm glad I can share it.