SALEM, W.Va. — Joe Schumacher of Salem is known locally as the “Garlic Master” and the “Garlic Wizard.”
He has perfected his craft of growing garlic over the past 14 years and currently grows and sells 14 different varieties, many of them not native to America.
Schumacher can be found selling his organic products at farmers markets in Salem, Clarksburg and Bridgeport. He also has several regular customers who visit his home on Randolph Street.
The Garlic Master started growing garlic for its excellent health benefits in 2001.
“Raw garlic is great for many things, including colds, viruses, nursing moms and parasites. They are the biggest hidden secrets to health,” he said. “Raw garlic is what is good for you. It loses its medicinal benefits after it reaches 160 degrees.”
Schumacher started out with a small patch about 14 years ago and went organic nine years ago. His daughter, Sigrid Teets, is an agronomist (soil scientist).
“She bought me a book, which I refer to as my bible, ‘The Garlic Book.’ I go by it pretty religiously,” Schumacher said. “I learned about the proper soil pH, diseases and using no chemicals, not even manure.”
He uses three types of compost and rotates his plots annually.
Teets has received a USDA grant that she is utilizing on several different farms to study using cover crop to improve soil health. She has had an affinity for agriculture since she was a child and after college has always worked with farmers.
“Dad will call me up from time to time asking, ‘What do I need to do to improve my soil?’ I will always start by encouraging him to take a sample and send it to a lab for analysis,” Teets said. “Dad has really improved the quality of his soil over time by only adding soil amendments when they are needed, using cover crops, and minimizing traffic and tillage.
“I think that Dad began to be interested in garlic for the medicinal qualities, but soon became enthralled in garlic growing…