'Mr. Garlic' will share tips at Saturday Garlic Festival in Milford

Some people call him Mr. Domeracki, technology education teacher at Foran High School.

But in other circles, especially the gardening circles, Bill Domeracki is known as Mr. Garlic.

Mr. Garlic can tell you when it’s the right time to plant garlic: “Two to three weeks before the first hard frost,” he said recently. “Late October, early November.”

The garlic is ready to pick, he said, “when the first three leaves die off,” usually around the middle of July.

Garlic doesn’t need a lot of watering, unless there’s a drought, so it’s relatively easy to grow: Domeracki said he’s grabbed somewhat weathered cloves from his compost bin, planted those, and they did just fine without much effort.

The Milford Recreation Department’s Benson-Crump Memorial Community Gardens Program will hold its annual Autumn Garlic Festival fund-raiser at the gazebo on the Milford Green in downtown Milford on Saturday, Sept. 24, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. In addition to plenty of garlic to buy, Mr. Garlic will be there answering questions.

It has been another amazing year for garlic, according to Linda Ball, director of the community gardens, where the garlic is grown. She said eight organic varieties of garlic will be available, including Music, German Hardy, Siberian, Italian Red, Polish Jenn and Elephant.

Garlic enthusiasts will also find a large recipe section with more than 30 free recipes. And there will be raffles for gourmet baskets, beekeeper Ralph Harrison with honey and candles, seasonal vegetables from Robert Treat Farm and Shamrock Farm, plus hot apple cider and coffee with muffins and donuts.

There will be hand-decorated organic garlic braids, local apples from Fawn Meadow Orchards and colorful chrysanthemums from Filanowski Farm, a children’s corner, and at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., canning demonstrations. And, Mr. Garlic.

Domeracki, who plans to set up a raised soil bed to demonstrate how to prepare the garlic growing site, just won ribbons at the Orange Country Fair for his garlic. Proud of his new title, Domeracki said he entered an untrimmed garlic in Mr. Garlic's name, with the community garden’s address as a contact.

“So Mr. Garlic officially lives at the community gardens,” he said.

Domeracki credits his green thumb to his wife for getting him into gardening, as well as his grandmother, who taught him to forage for roots and berries when he was a child.

And he credits some of the long-time gardeners at the Benson-Crump community gardens for helping him hone his garlic growing skills.

Dan Rusanowski is one of the long-time gardens at the Benson-Crump gardens, and he’s a garlic aficionado. He said Domeracki has earned the title of Mr. Garlic because he’s a good student.

“He’s relatively new at the gardens,” Rusanowski said. “But he’s studied how garlic should be planted and the length of the growing season, which many people don’t understand.”

Rusanowski said Mr. Garlic has learned the different ways of preserving garlic, from pickling to dehydrating it, and he’s passed along the things he’s learned during his own gardening experiments and extensive reading.

Rusanowski and some of the other great garlic growers from the community gardens will be at the fest Saturday, also ready to share garlic growing tips.

Linda Ball is the one who dubbed Domeracki ‘Mr. Garlic.’ When she asked him to give informal talks at the festival, she told him every garlic grower needs a name, and she said ‘Mr. Garlic’ would be perfect.

All proceeds from the festival will benefit the Benson-Crump Memorial Community Gardens Program, which is a practicing organic community garden in its 48th year of operation in Milford. It encompasses 135 plots on the North Street side of Eisenhower Park. There are more than 250 participating gardeners, including several local community groups.

The rain date for the garlic festival is Sunday, Sept. 25.