Harvested Heirloom Garlic
It Is Time T0
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New Jersey State Fair and Sussex County Horse Show
For our customers in New Jersey, New York, Delaware, Maryland andConnecticut, Harvesting History will have a booth in The Conservatory at the New Jersey State Fair and Sussex County Horse Show from August 2 – August 11. Come visit us and see what a real old fashion statefair is really like. This is a truly wonderful state fair.
You can see Harvesting History’s entire Heirloom Garlic Collection at the following link:
This weekend would be a great time to put together your garlic order.Harvesting History will begin to ship garlic in mid – September, and we will continue to ship until we run out or mid – December (for zones 8 – 9). I know that mid – September seems a long way off, but we sell out of many varieties early, so please order soon.
Garlic should be planted in September – October for zones 1 – 3, in October – early November in zones 4 – 5, in late October – early December for zones6 -7, and in late November-December for zones 8 – 9.
At Harvesting History, we heartily support the growing of garlic in the home garden. If planted at the correct time of year, in soil that has been properly amended, garlic is one of the easiest and most rewarding crops you can grow.
As most of us know, garlic is a superfood. It is nutritious and is known to minimize the development of cholesterol. Garlic is one of the oldest human cultivated crops. More than 5000 years ago Egyptian and Indian cultures were growing garlic. The Chinese were growing garlic 2000 years ago. Garlic was originally native to much of Asia, India, Africa and parts of Europe.Related garlic species grow throughout the world including North America. Today, true wild garlic is only found in the parts of Central Asia centered in Kyrgystan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
Garlic can be grown just about anywhere in the United States. You just have to select the varieties that will do well in your planting zone.
All modern garlic belongs to one of two subspecies: hardneck (ophioscorodon) or softneck (sativum). Hardneck subspecies try to produce flower stalks, known as Scapes, with small aerial cloves called bulbils. Hardnecks will not produce large bulbs underground unless the scapes are removed. There are three varieties of hardneck garlic: Purple Striped, Porcelain and Rocambole.
Softneck garlics have lost the ability, for the most part, to produce aflower stalk. However, under certain climatic situations, the bulbs may tryto produce a flower stalk known as bolting.
For the next few weeks we are going to discuss garlic: its history; its health benefits; how to grow it; which varieties grow best in which locations, etc.
The Creole Garlic – Creole Red
We know that wild garlic originally grew in some of the coldest, least hospitable climates on earth. We also know that prolonged exposure to cold, known as vernalization, is necessary for garlic to bulb. However, over the eons since garlic began to be cultivated, some strains of garlic have developed that do well in climates with mild winters. These garlics are known as Creole Garlics for the most part, but there are also a few garlic cultivars that flourish in mild climates that are not Creoles.
The Creole Garlic Group, in addition to flourishing in warm climates also tolerates spring heat spells and drought quite well. This Group was originally known as Southern Continental and referred to Southern Europe. In fact, most of the cultivars available in the US came originally from Spain. In the southwestern US, Creoles are often referred to as ‘Mexican Purple’.
Creoles are not well known in the US and quite difficult to find. The bulbs tend to be small – to medium – sized, but the flavor is usually outstanding and the Creoles are known for their long storage capabilities. We have found that Creoles can survive a Hardiness Zone 4 winter, but the bulbs are often quite small. They do very well in Hardiness Zones 5 – 9.
Creole Red (pictured above) is considered to be one of the best tastingCreoles available today. The bulbs have white wrappers, but the cloves are wrapped in stunning burgundy. As you can see from the photo, the color is intense.
Creole Red was introduced to the American market in the 1980s from a California virus-free program.
The Creole Garlic – Burgundy
Burgundy, like Creole Red, is a beautiful Creole Garlic that came from the UC Davis Collection and was grown for commercial production by famed Oregon garlic grower, Horace Shaw. Its flavor is less intense than other Creoles, but its delicious sweetness makes it an excellent choice for mild winter climates.
Besides being a good storer, this garlic is very reliable. Year after year, you can depend upon it to produce.
The Creole Garlic – Ajo Rojo
Ajo Rojo is a Creole for Northern climates. It flourishes in the hot South, but also does well in the North. Like other Creoles, it stores well. In fact, some say the flavors improve with long term storage. In the early 1990s, it was brought into the US from Spain by G. Lutovsky. It began to be commercially cultivated in Nevada through a virus-free program. Its flavor soon made it a favorite among garlic aficionados. When eaten raw, this garlic starts out mild, but builds to an intense heat. When baked, Ajo Rojo is mild and creamy.
Harvesting History’s Heirloom Garlic Collection
As with many plants, once you know how to grow garlic, it is easy to grow and fairly dependable year after year.
The first ‘Do’ to consider is:
DO CHOOSE THE CORRECT
GARLIC FOR YOUR CLIMATE
There are fundamentally two kinds of garlic: hardnecks and softnecks. In the simplest terms possible, hardnecks are the most rugged and cold hardy of the garlics. They grow best in Hardiness Zones 1 – 5. In order to form healthy bulbs, they need to experience at least 10 weeks of cold. This period of cold exposure is known as vernalization. If the garlic plant does not experience a sufficient period of vernalization, it will not produce a bulb. Hardnecks are often more flavorful, but they do not store well. A few varieties may last upto 6 months, but most perish after 8 – 10 weeks.
Softnecks are less cold hardy than hardnecks. Most softneck varieties grow best in Hardiness Zones 5 – 7 with a very few varieties able to form bulbs in Hardiness Zones 8 – 9. Softnecks must also experience a period of vernalization, but it does not have to be as long nor as extreme. In general, softnecks have milder flavor, but they are much better for storing. Some varieties can last up to one year when properly stored.
The second ‘Do’ to consider is:
DO PLANT AT THE CORRECT TIME
One of the most frequently made mistakes in home garden garlic growing is planting the garlic too early or too late. Most garlic grows best when planted in the fall. Some softnecks can flourish when planted in the spring, but hardnecks must be planted in the fall in order to produce the largest, healthiest bulbs.
In Hardiness Zones 5 – 7, too many people plant their garlic in September or early October. That is too early. The only objective you wish to accomplish when planting garlic in the fall is to get your garlic plants to put down enough roots to keep the clove buried in the soil throughout the winter. Frost heaves, when the soil experiences frequent freezing and thawing, will often spit the cloves right out of the ground. This is not good. When planted in late October, November or December, the plant puts down enough roots to keep the clove in the ground and does not produce so much top growth that it weakens the plant.
In Hardiness Zones 1 – 4 garlic should be planted in late October or early November. I live in Hardiness Zone 4 and my garlic never gets into the ground before November.
In Hardiness Zones 8 – 9, garlic should be planted in November or December after being refrigerated for at least 8 weeks.
The third ‘Do’ to consider is:
DO MAKE SURE YOU LEAVE
ENOUGH ROOM BETWEEN PLANTS
Garlic is not a community plant. It does not like or want neighbors, so leaveat least 6 inches between plants and 18 inches between rows and you will produce large garlic bulbs. If you crowd garlic, it will not bulb.
The fourth ‘Do’ to consider is:
DO FEED YOUR GARLIC
Most soil, today, does not have enough potash (potassium) or phosphate (phosphorus) to produce large, healthy garlic bulbs, so amend your soil before you plant with each of these soil nutrients. Also, garlic loves to be fed during the winter, and its favorite food is wood ashes from a wood-burning fireplace or woodstove. Just sprinkle the ashes over the soil where the garlic is sleeping during the winter and let Mother Nature do the rest. Come spring, your garlic will be in 7th Heaven.
The fifth ‘Do’ to consider is:
DO REMOVE THE SCAPES AS
SOON AS YOU SEE THEM
Sometime during the last 8 weeks of your garlic’s growth a bud stalk will grow out of the center of your garlic plant. Cut this stem at its base as soon as you see it. Never allow the buds to bloom. This bud stem is called a ‘scape’, and it drains the plant of its energy and compromises the size and vigor of the garlic bulb. Scapes are very pretty. Some florists use them in floral arrangements. Scapes are also good to eat. Their oniony flavor is stronger than chives but not overpowering. They can be served fresh or sautéed in olive oil. Best of all, though, scapes are fabulous when pickled, especially as a sweet pickle.
The sixth ‘Do’ to consider is:
DO HARVEST YOUR GARLIC
AS SOONAS IT TELLS YOU IT IS READY
Garlic plants are quite vocal. They love to tell you when they are ready to be harvested. When the plant’s leaves are two-thirds yellow or brown, most garlic should be dug up. The exception to this are the Asiatic and Turban garlic varieties. These varieties should be dug up as soon as their leaves begin to turn.
Do not procrastinate about digging up your garlic thinking the bulbs will continue to get bigger. They won’t. When garlic bulbs are left in the ground too long, the wrappers that protect the cloves begin to deteriorate and the cloves can rot.
To harvest garlic, gently dig around the plant, making sure you are far enough away from the stem so as not to hit the bulb and keep the stem affixed to the bulb. Tie the bulbs with string in bundles of 6, 8, or 10depending on the size of the bulbs and don’t forget to label each bundle.
The seventh ‘Do’ to consider is:
DO CURE YOUR GARLIC FOR WEEKS, NOT DAYS
Garlic needs to be ‘cured’ for at least 4 weeks and a most 10 weeks before the stems can be removed. Hang the bundles in a place that has good air circulation where the plants will not be exposed to direct sunlight. The plants should not be cured in a basement or closed area where there will be no air circulation. When the stems are dried to within 2 inches of the bulb, they have finished curing.
Garlic is harvested and cured during the hurricane season on the East Coast of the US and during Monsoon Season on the West Coast of the US. If the season is really wet, it will take the garlic a long time to cure.
The eighth ‘Do’ to consider is:
DO SELECT YOUR BEST CLOVES FOR PLANTING
The most important success factor in growing great garlic is to save your largest and best tasting cloves and plant them. NEVER EAT YOUR BEST CLOVES. By following this practice, year after year, you will build a collection of your own superior garlic.
The ninth ‘Do’ to consider is:
DO STORE YOUR GARLIC PROPERLY
The science behind storing garlic is temperature. In general, garlic should be stored at temperatures above 50 degrees Farenheit, but below 68 degrees and roughly 50% humidity. Garlic stored above 68 degrees dries out much faster causing the cloves to shrivel, and the cloves lose their flavor or become bitter. Garlic stored in the 40-50 degree range will begin to sprout and the cloves may become bitter. Good air circulation is critical. Without it, the garlic can often get moldy.
Oddly enough, one of the best ways to store garlic long term is by freezing the cloves. The cloves retain their flavor and texture quite well, but once they have been thawed out, they quickly (in a matter of days) lose their flavor, so only thaw out what you can use immediately.
NOW!! You must order your fall BLOOMING bulbs now,
if you want them to bloom THIS FALL.
You will not be able to purchase these bulbs in the fall.
We begin shipping in mid-August.
THESE BULBS WILL BLOOM THIS YEAR.
Visit our website today to find your fall
BLOOMING bulbs at the following link: