Get to know Big John from Oregon’s Big John’s Garden

Big John’s Garden near Klamath Falls, Oregon produces high quality certified organic garlic and shallot planting stock and is able to provide them in good quantities. Big John’s Garden is a nationally known resource for organic garlic growing, and the farm has been featured in Sunset and Domino magazines. Big John supplies Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and community gardens with five pound orders of high-quality garlic and shallots, but can also work with backyard gardener on smaller orders.

After seeing his great selection, we became very interested in Big John’s story and products. Here are our six questions for Big John.

1) What makes Big John’s Garden unique and worth checking out?

We are focused on garlic and shallots. Our quality and service are excellent and we can supply large quantities.

2) When did you start your farm? Have you always been organic?
We started the farm in 1969 and began certified organic operation 2005.

3) Why did you decide to grow shallots and garlic?
These plants excel in our area of Oregon. The temperate climate and soil types are just right for them to thrive.

4) Personally, what’s your favorite plant to grow and why?
I like to grow any type of garlic. [Big John even grows heirloom varieties like the Nootka Rose and the Lorz Italian.) Garlic is an amazing plant that can withstand just about anything Mother Nature throws at it. It’s very easy and satisfying to grow.

5) Can you share any general tips to growing good garlic and shallots?
I am lucky in that I do not have to add inputs to increase fertility. I do cover-cropping with rye, tricale, vetch and (experimentally last year) buckwheat. I am a firm believer in mulch and use about 1 inch of ground-up pasture hay. Lots of different types will work, just be careful to not have any seeds! I harvest when the bottom 4 leaves are seriously dried and browned out. It is better to get it on the slightly early side than on the late side. Full sun is a requirement and try to plant in such a way as there will never be any standing water (supersaturated soil) for any length of time. For the small grower, raised beds are great. For the larger grower, chiseling (sub-soiling) is very important. Garlic roots extend (and want to extend) down a lot farther than most people realize… I’ve seen them go down 10-12 inches.

6) Do you have specific advice for the growers out there who buy shallots or garlic from Big John’s Garden?
Order early to insure the quantities you want… we ship first come, first served.