04 October 2012

Fall is for planting garlic 2012


Worldwide, 2.5 million acres of garlic are grown to meet the needs of our kitchens and natural health pharmacies. Most of that garlic is grown in Asia, specifically China. CA has the largest growing area in the U.S. It is one of the easiest fall-planted crops you can grow in a kitchen garden.

Garlic can be planted from the seeds of the flower but only under special conditions so most garlic growers just use cloves of garlic as seed. When you buy a head of garlic at the produce stand or farmer’s market, you break it apart into cloves before cooking with it. Each of those cloves has the potential to produce a head of garlic.

Garlic planted now will be harvested next June. You can tuck seed in any flower or vegetable bed or in a deep container where it will mature over the winter and next spring.

Sharon Owen at Moonshadow Herb Farm plants by the moon and will plant her garlic Oct 8. We usually plant ours between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Select seed from recommended garlic varieties to ensure the best crop next summer. Look for the flavor and amount of heat you prefer, of course. Some varieties have small or large heads; some are long keeping cultivars and others are best eaten fresh out of the garden.

For pickle making and roasted garlic we prefer large cloves. The small, flavorful, clove varieties are great to chop for pizza, tacos, salad dressings, stir-fry and soup.

Garlic seed = clove of garlic
  When you order garlic seed, you order not only by size and sharpness or mildness of flavor but also how long the harvested heads will keep.

The Rocambole garlics have the best flavor, according to the experts. Their names include: Carpathian, Killarney Red, Russian Red and Spanish Roja. They do not store well so they are grown for eating in the fall.

Purple Stripe and Glazed Purple Stripe Rocambole varieties store a little longer and have a more intense flavor. Those varieties include: Samarkand, Shatili, Shvelisi and Vekak.

Asian varieties such as Pyongyang and Asian Tempest also store well.

Artichoke garlics resemble what grocery stores call giant garlic, which is a leek or mild onion. Those include: Kettle River Giant, Lorz Italian and Tochliavri.

If you enjoy large clove garlic, try these varieties: Leningrad, Music, Romanian Red, Rosewood, Zemo, Bai Pi Suan, Bogatyr and Siberian.

Creole garlic stores well for many months and growers like the flavor. Varieties include: Burgundy, Creole Red, Manuel Benitee, Pescadero Red, Roja de Castro, and Ajo Roja.

Silverskin varieties store longest. They can be hot rather than complex in flavor, so they are recommended for sauté rather than fresh use. Some of the names include: Locati, Nootka Rose, Rose du Var, S & H Silver, Silver White and Wedam.

The early maturing varieties include the Turbans: Luster, Shandong and Uzbek


Garlic scapes June 2011
Sellers also refer to garlic as hardneck or softneck.  Hardnecks are more cold-hardy and best for northern gardeners. Softnecks grow well in mild climates such as ours, store longer, and braid more easily.

Plant the seeds in prepared soil, in a sunny location. Spacing is 6-8-inches apart, in 10-inch-wide rows. Plant cloves deep enough to cover with an inch of soil. Fertilize lightly with 10-10-10 or an organic equivalent, then water, and mulch. Keep the area completely weed-free and the soil moist to prevent shriveled heads. Fertilize again in the spring.

For more information: Online check out www.wegrowgarlic.com or the book, “The Complete Book of Garlic” by Ted Meredith, 2008, $40, Timber Press (timberpress.com) and $22 at Barnes & Noble (barnesandnoble.com).

We purchased garlic seed from Keene Organics (http://keeneorganics.com) in WI.  Their online catalog is informative and easy to use.

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