For the past umpteen years I have planted multiple varieties of garlic, all properly labeled at planting time. However, between harvesting, curing and cleaning I always manage to get the varieties mixed up. Currently, except for the German White, all my other garlics are mystery garlics.
So this year I decided to plant only 2 varieties, German White and Duganski. As you can see from the photos below it would be impossible to get the 2 varieties mixed up.
I like the German White very much, both the young garlic green and the garlic scape are fat and tender with a mild sweet garlic flavor, the garlic cloves are big and easy to peel. Each head contains 4 – 6 huge cloves. The head in the above photo contains 5 giant cloves and 1 small clove.
Duganski is a new variety for me. We grew this variety in the Heritage Vegetable Garden at Locust Grove (where I am a volunteer) for the first time this year. When I saw the mature head of garlic that we harvested, I was smitten by its beauty (I know, you are thinking: “she’s got a loose screw upstairs”) decided then and there to plant this variety.
Each large head with its beautiful, purple stripe, contains 8 – 12 cloves. The head in the above photo contains 11 fairly equal-sized cloves.
Duganski is a hard neck garlic so I am looking forward to harvesting the scape as well. Like the German white the cloves are also easy to peel.
As you can see from the above photo, the clove of the German White is about twice the size of the Duganski. I now have a choice of clove sizes when adding garlic to a dish.
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Garlic is easy to grow and bothered by few pests. If you have never grown garlic before do give it try. Below are my planting guide that I hope you will find useful and encouraged to give growing garlic a try.
» Select a well drained, sunny location in your garden.
» Garlic is a heavy feeder, I enrich the soil by digging in compost and/or well rotted manure.
» Select and save the best heads with the largest cloves from the current year harvest
If you are a first time garlic grower, get your garlic for planting from a farmers market or the health food store, the garlic from the food market are most likely treated with a growth retardant and will not grow.
Day of Planting
» I plant my garlic around the end of October, last year I planted on October 29, this year I am a few days earlier. Depending on your planting zone (I am zone 6a, used to be 5) your planting date will be different than mine.
» I sprinkle granular organic fertilizes on the surface of the soil, mix in well using my hoe.
» Prior to planting, I separate the garlic cloves and plant each clove 2 inches deep and 3 inches apart (the guideline is to plant the cloves 5 – 6 inches apart. See Harvesting below to learn why I plant my cloves so closely).
» Water well and deeply especially if the ground is dry. The cloves will get established before the ground freezes and may send out shoots. That’s OK, not to worry, they will survive the winter.
NOTE: Will mulch the garlic bed with a few inches of leaves after the ground freezes.
» Weed if needed.
» I fertilize with fish emulsion fertilizer in the spring and water as needed. By the first week of July, as harvest approaches, I water less frequently and no watering few days before harvest.
Garlic Green aka Green Garlic – Starting around the end of March (depending on weather may be early April) I begin to harvest every other garlic plant to use as garlic green (also known as green garlic) until around mid-May. The whole plant, green as well as white parts, are edible.
Click here for a (non)recipe using garlic greens.
The remainder of the garlic plants are now properly spaced to grow and mature into full heads. For the same space I am getting 2 different crops.
Garlic Scape – Around the last week of May, the garlic plant begin to send out garlic scape (seed stem) which I harvest until about the 3rd week of June.
You can substitute garlic scape for the garlic green in this (non)recipe.
I run my fingers along the seed stem and snap, both the stem and bud are edible.
Garlic Head – Harvest when the lower leaves are brown but at least 4 green leaves remain on the top of the stem, for me that’s around mid-July.
To check for readiness, I dig one head to see if it is nicely wrapped with a parchment-like wrapper, if not, I will check again in a few days. Once ready, using my garden fork, I lift the heads, very carefully, out of the ground (do NOT pull), brush off extra soil (do NOT wash) tie them into small bundles and hang them in my shed (see NOTE) to dry and cure. This will take a few weeks. Once cured, I trim the roots, cut the stems to about 1½ inch above the heads and brush off the loose dirt.
NOTE: I leave my shed door open during this drying and curing period to allow for air circulation. You can also place the plants single layer on elevated screen or garden flats to dry. Drying should be done in a dry and airy location but out of the sun.
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