All the garlic from the 2011 harvest has now been cured, trimmed up and weighed. As I expected after I finished the digging, it was our best year yet at HA for one of our favorite vegetables. There’s hardly a day that goes by without our eating garlic in one way or another.
In this part of the world (Southern Indiana), garlic is usually planted in fall and harvested sometime the following summer. Harvest here usually starts in mid-late June and early July, with all varieties being out of the ground before the end of July. This year I harvested the last of the garlic on July 10th.
Garlic is pretty easy to grow, but I’ll be the first to admit I am still learning how to grow great garlic. Weather plays a big factor, and some years it just does better than others. This year was one of the good years, but some of the varieties actually did better last year, when there was far less rain. Go figure!
Our best performer this year was a newcomer to our garden, one called Purple Italian. I got the planting stock for this hardneck rocambole variety from Peaceful Valley Farm & Garden Supply. I grew 8 plants, and the bulbs averaged 2.5 ounces after curing. It has big fat cloves that are easy to peel and have a fairly mild and sweet flavor raw. Time will tell how good a keeper it is.
The second best performer based on yield was Lorz Italian, a softneck artichoke type. The 15 bulbs averaged 1.7 ounces each. It has a pretty bold flavor for a softneck, and it is a good keeper. It has been a reliable performer here for several years now.
Another good performer was Nootka Rose, though it didn’t get but about half the size of the Purple Italian. I planted 24 cloves last fall, and all 24 headed up and made nice bulbs. It’s another softneck with a fiery flavor when fresh and raw. My taste buds were still tingling quite some time after eating a clove during a taste-testing here! It’s a good keeper as well. Another silverskin type that does well for us is Silver White. It is usually the longest keeping of any of the kinds we grow. The planting stock for both of these came from Filaree Garlic Farm.
The Asiatic/Turban types are very consistent here, though not always the biggest. Shilla was a first-timer here in 2011, while Chinese Pink, Uzbek and Japanese were back for another year. They all will be back next year. These types usually only keep until January or February, so we make sure to use them up first.
I’ve had a hard time with purple skin types here. This year Brown Tempest and Metechi did pretty well. I’ll plant them again and see what happens. Next year I am also trying Bogatyr and Maiskij.
The lone creole planted this year was Ajo Rojo, thanks to a garlic swap with Christina at A Thinking Stomach blog. I’ve tried Burgundy and Creole Red here before, and neither did much at all. Ajo Rojo looks more promising. The sizes were all over the place, but I’ll save the largest bulbs for planting again and we’ll see how it does once it begins to acclimate to our environment. It has a lovely taste raw, and I am keeping my fingers crossed.
After trimming and cleaning up a bit, I put all of the garlic in mesh bags and store it in our basement pantry. Conditions there aren’t ideal for garlic, but it is reasonably dry and the temperatures are fairly constantly warm, but not too hot or cold.
I’ll save the biggest bulbs of each variety for planting next year’s crop. I won’t break the bulbs open until just before it’s time to plant. If you’ve never grown garlic before, you really should give it a try. Homegrown garlic is easy to grow and has a wonderful flavor. I think it’s worth a spot in everyone’s garden.