I am excited to bring you a Brand New Cozy Series today
and to welcome Edith to Escape With Dollycas!
Thanks so much for asking me over, Lori! My new cozy mystery, A Tine to Live, A Tine to Die, is set on an organic farm, and I wanted to share a bit of my own background in farming.
Twenty years ago I operated and co-owned a small certified-organic farm in northeastern Massachusetts. One of my specialties was garlic. I grew hundreds of bulbs of both stiff-neck and soft-neck (braidable) garlic.
It’s a fantastic crop. You plant it in late fall, when everything else is dying off for the winter, preferably on a nice sunny Indian-Summer kind of day. After the ground freezes in December, I mulch the beds with salt marsh hay, which prevents frost heaves.
In April the green shoots push up through the hay, and I harvest it in late July. I learned much of what I know about growing garlic from a great book, titled Growing Great Garlic.
Garlic has no pests in our area. It doesn’t need pruning or thinning. It feels like a free crop in the spring, because the work was done so long ago. I use lots of garlic when I cook, and it stores well. What’s to lose?
Here is a paragraph from my second Local Foods mystery, ‘Til Dirt Do Us Part, which takes place in the fall but will be out in early spring 2014. Farmer Cam Flaherty is planting her garlic. She has already split the garlic bulbs into cloves, selecting the fattest ones for planting and using the rest in her own kitchen. (Preston is her Norwegian Forest cat)
“She took the basket of cloves and a pitchfork to the field. She loosened a large bed that had held bush beans earlier in the season, so it was now rich in nitrogen from nodules on the legume roots, and covered it with several inches of finished compost. Kneeling, she pressed a clove, root side down, about an inch into the loose rich soil. The next clove went in four inches away. She continued that way along the length and width of the bed, every clove a hand’s width from its neighbor. Preston sidled by to visit and sat on a bale of salt marsh hay to watch her work.”
When you plant stiff-neck garlic varieties like German Red and Rocambole, the cloves grow in a single layer around a central stalk. Right around now in the season, the plants throw up a scape. It’s the stalk becoming an alien-looking pointy growth that loops around into a circle and then keeps growing. The scape ultimately wants to become a garlic flower, but that robs the bulbs of energy, so farmers clip them off with scissors. I like to saute them. These crunchy green stalks, either whole or chopped, provide a nice mild garlic flavor.
After the Equinox, the garlic starts bulbing underground. I harvest it when two-thirds of the leaves are yellowing, and lay it out first in the sun and then in a cool dry place to cure. Soft-neck garlic varieties, which grow in several concentric layers and don’t have the rigid central stalk, can then be braided.
What about you? Have you grown garlic? Do you have any varieties you prefer, or would you rather just shake a little dried garlic out of a jar?
About Edith Maxwell
Locavore Edith Maxwell’s Local Foods Mysteries published by Kensington let her relive her days as an organic farmer in Massachusetts, although murder in the greenhouse is new. A fourth-generation Californian, she has also published short stories of murderous revenge, most recently in the Fish Nets and Thin Ice anthologies.
Edith Maxwell’s pseudonym Tace Baker authored Speaking of Murder, which features Quaker linguistics professor Lauren Rousseau and campus intrigue after her sexy star student is killed. Edith is a long-time Quaker and holds a long-unused doctorate in linguistics.
A mother and former technical writer, Edith lives north of Boston in an antique house with her beau and three cats. You can find her at www.edithmaxwell.com and
A Tine to Live, A Tine to Die
(Local Foods Mystery)
Brand New Series
Kensington Books (May 28, 2013)
Hardcover: 272 pages
E-Book File Size: 502 KB
It’s the start of the farming season in Westbury, Massachusetts, and geek-turned-novice farmer Cameron Flaherty hopes to make a killing selling organic produce. A colorful Locavore Club belongs to Cam’s farm-share program. But when a killer strikes on her property, her first foray into the world of organic farming yields a bumper crop of locally sourced murder. To clear her name, Cam has to dig up secrets buried deep beneath the soil of Produce Plus Plus Farm. And when the police don’t make progress in the case, she has to catch a murderer whose motto seems to be, “Eat Local. Kill Local.”
An excellent debut!!
Cam Flaherty is a protagonist that is easy to identify with. She has come back to Westbury to take over the farm where she spent so many summers growing up. Just when her ideas starts to bear fruit a man is murdered.
Maxwell has surrounded Cam with more than a few suspects and friends that keep her strong as she fights to clear her name. These characters are really well fleshed out for the first book in a series. We learn a lot about their backgrounds which always makes the reader invested in their lives and the story. It also makes the book extremely hard to put down.
With issues like a local militia, some residents with immigration problems, and the localore way of eating many Westbury area residents are adapting makes this a very interesting story in addition to a well plotted mystery.
Edith Maxwell has firmly planted a great foundation for what I know is going to be a very tasty series!
Would you like to win a copy of this wonderful book?
Thanks to Edith Maxwell
I have 2 copies to giveaway!!
My Advance Review Copy and 1 Brand New Hardcover!!
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”