Going Green with Garlic
Growing a market for a unique product
First step in selling green garlic was showing people how to use it, entrepreneur says
By SANDRA BRETTING
For The Chronicle
It all began for Dilip Naik when he tried to find fresh green garlic like the type used by his grandmother in his native India.
The vegetable is grown during the winter months there, but Naik wanted to produce it in this country year-round.
“Green garlic is tricky,” Naik said. “It’s not a hardy plant, and when you grow it in soil, the cloves aren’t much to look at. Plus, a lot of people here don’t know what to do with it. They don’t realize you can use the stalk for chives, not just the clove of the plant.”
For Naik, a breakthrough occurred when he attempted hydroponics, a method of growing plants in water.
He had moved his family to Sugar Land and experimented with various growing methods for more than 10 years.
Today, his company, Gourmet Country Farm in Rosenberg, sells fresh green garlic and green garlic products to Whole Foods, Central Market and a Spec’s Liquor Store.
Bumps along the way
According to Naik, a structural engineer by trade, the journey from backyard gardener to produce company owner has been anything but easy.
“Because I know what the garlic should taste like, I wasn’t happy with the quality I was getting when I grew it in the ground,” Naik said.
“The problem is that nobody had developed the technology to harvest it, so everything I needed, I had to create myself.”
“Everything” included special growing beds, a water system that would adequately hydrate the plant without oversaturating it, and a method of harvesting that wouldn’t crush the cloves. Read More