FORD RIVER, Mich. (WZMQ) – On Thursday, September 14, Escanaba’s Daily Press newspaper is hosting its “Taste of the Island” Cooking Show at the Island Resort & Casino in Harris. The Island’s chefs will be incorporating ingredients from local growers into their recipes.
Rod Lanaville is the owner of Lanaville Garlic Farm. He has spent about four decades tending to a wide array of produce.
Lanaville grew garlic for the first time 38 years ago.
“I love garlic,” he said. “I like the flavor of it. I like to know about different ways of using it.”
However, his garlic wasn’t an instant success.
“I went to the grocery store and bought some garlic bulbs and planted them,” recalled Lanaville. “I didn’t realize that they were softneck garlic and they had been sprayed to deter the garlic from sprouting.”
After struggling with “hit-and-miss” results, Lanaville went to the best place to learn more about growing the plant—garlic school.
“My wife found this woman in Garden who has a garlic school, and she taught us about hardneck garlic,” Lanaville said. “Hardneck garlic keeps longer tan softneck, has more flavor than softneck. It’s a lot more work, but it’s worth it.”
Now, Lanaville grows six different types of garlic. He plants cloves in raised beds each October.
“About every eight inches, I’ll have four garlic in these beds,” he said. “Then I’ll cover them with about 5 – 6 inches of straw, because that keeps the weeds down. It will also help keep the soil moist.”
The garlic is then fertilized with chicken manure.
“In June, it’ll produce a scape,” said Lanaville. “The center part of the garlic that’ll grow past the leaves. When it curls, you cut it right at the base of the top leaf.”
Lanaville says cutting the scapes ensures larger bulbs.
“If you don’t cut the scapes, you’ll get cross-pollination,” he added.
Lanaville uses the garlic he grows for more than just food.
“Garlic is a natural fungicide and antiseptic and bug deterrent,” he said. “Grapes develop powdery mildew and commercial growers spray them real heavy with pesticides.”
Opting for a more organic solution, Lanaville grinds up garlic bulbs, strains it, and adds a bit of dish soap. Spraying his grapes with that mixture every seven to ten days prevents mildew.
“Peaches will get gummosis, where insects will burrow into the tree or into the peach itself and it oozes out a little gummy substance,” he explained. “I just spray it with garlic and I don’t get gummosis and I don’t get bugs.”
Lanaville is thrilled to be part of the “Taste of the Island” Cooking Show.
“I can hardly wait to see them cook!” he said. “I want to see what they’ll do with the garlic. I think that’s really cool.”
He hopes his garlic adds a little something special to the dishes.
“It brings out a lot of the other flavors in the food that you normally wouldn’t detect,” he said. “If you didn’t use garlic on your hamburger, it would taste like a hamburger. But if you put the garlic on with onion powder on it, it’s elevated. It’s so much better.”
Tickets for the “Taste of the Island” Cooking Show are now available for $25. They can be purchased at the Daily Press office, located at 600 Ludington Street, or at Elmer’s County Market. Call (906) 786-2021 to order tickets in the mail.