Jerry Ford and Sunny Ruthchild are longtime friends in Minnesota garlic and organic farming. Sunny runs Merryweather Gardens near Walnut Grove, raising garlic, poultry, vegetables, and pigs who are happy to be the clean-up crew for her orchard. Jerry raises replacement dairy heifers, grass-fed beef, and garlic with his family at Living Song Farm near Howard Lake.
Before they get back out there to plant next year’s garlic crop, they’re taking some time to compare notes and philosophies as they prepare for the next season and climate unknowns. They get into:
- Site Selection – Jerry’s land is hilly, Sunny’s land is flat. They both make it work.
- Soil Prep – “If you need to add chemicals to the soil, you need a different site.”
- Timing of planting
- Seed garlic and varietal selection – Seed garlic grown in Minnesota does well in Minnesota.
- First-time growers & gardeners – Porcelain varieties are a great place to start
- Dip treatments – Nah.
- Their agriculture philosophies
- Being adaptable to change in markets and climate
Garlic is a high-value, premium crop here in Minnesota. As Sunny says, “the truth is, Minnesota can grow garlic. And the other truth is, people in Minnesota love good garlic, don’t let anybody tell you anything else.”