The Porcelain and
Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About GARLIC!!
The Porcelain and Turban horticultural groups of garlic were basicallyunknown in the US until very recently. They are both very distinctive, but for different reasons. They are both hardneck varieties, so it is essential to plant them in the fall.
The Porcelains can best be described with one word – impressive. The plants are huge, with incredibly thick stems up to 1 inch in diameter and statuesque. They can reach a height of 7 feet, but mine never have. My Porcelains areusually about 3 feet tall. You should probably leave more distance between these plants – 9 inches between cloves and 2 feet between rows.
Without a doubt, though, the most impressive characteristic of the Porcelains is their bulb size and their clove size. Bulbs can be nearly the size of a baseball, and the cloves can be the size of small eggs. They are simply gigantic. The bulbs wrappers are glistening white, hence the name ‘Porcelain’ and the clove wrappers vary from glistening white to buff with pink blushes.
Porcelains are the largest garlics under cultivation today. They also produce the highest yields of allicin, the compound credited with giving garlic its highly nutritional benefits. Each bulb usually has 3 to 6 cloves in a single layer. Because the bulbs produce so few cloves, they are very expensive to produce commercially which is why you will rarely see them at the grocery store or the farm stand. Their flavor can be strong when raw but becomes quite subtle when cooked. For a hardneck, this garlic type stores quite well, usually lasting 4-6 months.
Porcelains are among the most cold hardy of the garlic groups, but they, surprisingly, can tolerate warmer climates as well. During their spring growing season, they must have good moisture or their size will be significantly compromised.
Polish Hardneck (pictured above) came originally from an Ontario garlic grower, John Yovanov, but was collected by Rick Bangert of Idaho. The flavor is among the best of the Porcelains and the plants and bulbs and cloves can be huge. Polish Hardneck is also an excellent storer.
Romanian Red was probably the first Porcelain introduced into North America. It comes from Romania by way of British Columbia. It is the example by which all Porcelains should be judged. When raw, this garlic is very hot. When cooked the flavor is excellent, but not too hot. Romanian Red produces the most allicin of all the Porcelains, and many experienced Porcelain garlic growers have observed that it is the most disease resistant of the Porcelain garlic cultivars.
Turbans are as different from Porcelains as 2 plants from the same family could be. Turbans are so named because of the shape of their flower head which forms at the end of the ‘scape’ they produce. The flower head is shaped like a turban. Unlike the huge, sturdy, vigorous Porcelains, the Turban plants do not look very robust. The stems are short, and the leaves are spaced far apart giving the plant a straggly appearance. It is not unusual for the stems to bend at the soil level and topple over as harvest time approaches.
The word best associated with Turbans is earliest. These garlics should be the first to be harvested, sometimes 3-4 weeks before the other garlics. Harvesting should take place as soon as the top two leaves begin to turn. They also have the shortest storage capability, but they are the first to sprout in the spring. Just as last year’s garlic harvest is being depleted, the Turbans arrive to quench your appetite for fresh garlic.
The Turbans are often quite beautiful with bulb wrappers heavily streakedwith purple. The cloves (8-12 per bulb) are wrapped in buff colored or burgundy colored wrappers.
Turbans like Porcelains are quite cold hardy, but also do well in warmer climates. Their flavor is quite hot when raw, but the heat is lost when the garlic is cooked.
Chinese Purple is best known for growing well in warm southern climates. It produces large bulbs with 6-8 cloves arranged in one layer. Raw, this garlic is quite hot, but it loses that heat when cooked. Unlike most Turbans, Chinese Purple is a fairly good storer, and I have had it last up to 6 months. This garlic ripens very early, so keep an eye on it.
Xian is a Chinese garlic purchased at the Northwestern Polytechnic University in Xi’an, China some time during the late 1980s or early 1990s. It was made available to the public by the Seed Savers Exchange in 1999. When eaten raw, the flavor is very hot, but some of this heat is lost with cooking. Like most Turbans, it does not store well.
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 tasting Creoles 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 aCalifornia virus-free program.
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:
THE DUCHESS COUNTY (NY) FAIR
Tuesday August 20-Sunday August 25
Harvesting History will be at the Dutchess County Fair with seed garlic, Heirloom seeds, Heirloom Citrus Trees, plants and classic garden tools. Please make sure you come to visit our booth if you are planning to attend the fair. Like the NJ State Fair and Sussex County Horse Show, the Dutchess CountyFair is an old fashion harvest fair with great exhibits and competitions. Events like this are rare today, so make the effort and attend. If nothing else, you will learn a lot.