Garlic is by far one of the easiest plants to grow. Why more people don’t grow it, I just don’t understand. A good amount of the garlic in North America is imported despite the ease of growing it and storing it here. For me, it is very rare that I even purchase garlic anymore.
This year we will be growing 3 garlic varieties:
Creole Garlic -
Elephant Garlic -
The Bogatyr and Elephant Garlic is being grown for the first time in our garden. This means the first few years it is being grown to expand the seed stock and to be tested. In future years these varieties (if they test well) will be made available for sale through our farm.
The Creole garlic is in its second year of growth and we should have a larger amount available. This means it will likely be available through our farm in late Spring of 2021.
Why should you cook with garlic?
According to medical news today there are a lot of great reasons to love garlic. It is said to help lead you to a healthier heart and fight off many well known cancers. And of course we cannot forget how it wards off Vampires!
Check out the medical news article, there are a lot of health reasons to love garlic.
Garlic is for sure a staple product in our home and we are excited each year about expanding our garlic volume to serve our customers with great home grown flavour.
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One of my favourite things to grow in the garden is garlic. For gardeners it is a fall set it, and forget it bulb.
Growing in Mississippi vs. Canada requires selecting new varieties that can tolerate the shorter cold season. Most hardneck varieties are better for the northern climates and the softneck varieties are more suited for the south. For more information on hardneck vs softneck see our October blog post Growing Garlic.
I have grown the hardneck varieties successfully in Canada, which gave me a years worth of beautiful garlic. In the south, I am going to test three varieties this year with the intention of expanding my production. In future years I intend to take them to market and of course save enough for our household for the year. I am really excited to bring specialty garlic to the markets here, especially the creole varieties. So fitting for the south.
I have chosen three varieties for testing this year.
Softneck variety: Creole Red & Ajo Roji.
These are two different types of garlic with some similarities in flavour. Both are described as milder in flavour, with less kick but creamy when baked. Garlic is full of health benefits normally but the Ajo Roji is said to have increased health benefits due to its red coloring, which delivers increased antioxidants.
Hardneck variety: Metechi Bulk.
This is a hardneck garlic that is said to grow like a softneck in warmer climates. The flavour of this one is described as hot and with some garlicky kick. It's also known for being easy to peel.
I purchased all of my garlic seed from Filaree Garlic Farm and the experience has been good so far.
I will let you know in the early summer how these three varieties made out. Stay tuned!
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Never buy Garlic, always grow it.
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Garlic is one garden product I really cannot stand to buy at the grocery store. It is almost always imported from overseas. I have heard stories (not sure of their truth) that Garlic is grown in human feces overseas. Which is not something I fancy. True or not, I don't love it when my food has to travel so far to reach me. Especially, when it is so easy to grow and keep.
Garlic can be started from one of those imported bulbs from the grocery store or better yet try to get your hands on some grown locally and organically. The hard part will be determining what kind of garlic you have. Try to find someone knowledgeable in their garlic types. Some garlic offers different flavours to your dishes, so the more you know the better.
Why I love growing garlic:
Easy - We have established this over and over, I like easy gardening. These are about as easy as it gets. You plant them in the fall, cover them with some mulch. And let them welcome you in the spring. The hardest part about garlic is washing them after you pull them up.
Store well - Garlic is something that even in a small yard I can grow enough to last me the entire year. They store very well. Some kinds store longer than others, so you may need to try a couple of kinds before you find which ones store the best. The bulb shown above I picked in August and was still sitting on my counter in perfect ready to use condition in March.
Help Tomatoes - According to my favorite book Carrots Love Tomatoes Garlic when planted with Tomatoes can help prevent Red Spider Mites.
Space friendly - Garlic does not take up a lot of space in your garden. Bulbs don't require room for long trailing leaves or bushy foliage. Small round spot in the dirt and a long skinny stem up from the top. So you can plant lots of it.
Gives back - Another one of my favourite garden qualities is when the product can give back. Well garlic does just this. Grow enough garlic for the year and then some extra to save for planting the following year.
Garlic is just like most bulbs. It is planted in the fall, goes dormant and then comes up in the spring to complete it's growing process. Simply crack your garlic in the fall and plant. Bulbs do not like to sit in really moist conditions. They do best in well drained soil, so the bulbs do not rot. I have always found I get the best and biggest bulbs in drier garden boxes that are placed in an area of full sun.
When planting do think about harvesting. Leave enough space in planting your garlic to get a shovel around them so you will have an easier time getting them pulled out of the soil without cutting into the other ones.
Types of Garlic:
There are so many flavours of garlic out there and yet we will likely see the same kind in mass quantities at our grocery stores. The small white bulb grown in China. It does the trick when you need garlic but its like the boxed wine of garlic. It's just not the same as the good stuff.
To understand garlic for its flavour and for growing you need to know there are a few types of garlic.
4 - 12 cloves per bulb
Said to have more flavour
Better grown in the northern climate as it needs a longer cool season to be dormant before flowering.
Will have large scapes that can also be harvested
8 - 30 cloves per bulb
Less kick to their flavour
Does not have a flowering scape
Grow better in the southern region
Large bulb 4 - 6 cloves per bulb
Related to leeks
Up to 12 cloves per bulb
Has kick to it's flavour
Grows well in the southern region
6 - 9 cloves per bulb
Has a unique flavour that has been described as sweeter
It is literally black as it is caramelized
Sought out by chefs for its rare flavour
Garlic Tip: For the hardneck varieties in the summer remove the garlic scape. The long green stem from the middle that curls. This is the flower bud. These can be eaten or placed into a flower arrangement, for a cool creative design.
Harvesting the garlic is the hardest part of the whole process. They will get their garlic roots very tightly knitted into the soil. Dig them up carefully. Ideally, when the soil is dry so you can shake off as much of the dirt as possible.
Wash them thoroughly. Leave as much of their wrapping on as possible, only removing any rotted pieces. Dry them thoroughly and then leave them in a cool and shaded space in the house. Not in direct sunlight.
With this in mind, you can now grow your own garlic for the year. Be garlic self sufficient I say. Want to see what I am growing for garlic in the garden? Check out "The Garlic of my Garden".
Hope this was helpful, thanks for being here.