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  • Writer's pictureJere Folgert

Extraordinary Garlic for Fall Planting

Updated: Jan 14

Autumn's here, and for garlic lovers it's time to get funky! Forget boring supermarket bulbs – dive into the wild world of hardneck heroes, perfect for planting and painting your taste buds with fiery portraits. This isn't just about monstrous cloves and epic hardiness. We're talking about heirloom varieties passed down through generations, each with its own unique personality. Want smoky, caramelized notes? Try the Rocha from Portugal. Craving intense, garlicky fire? The Georgian Fire will light up your taste buds. And for those who like things a little sweeter and milder, the Korean Red is your new best friend. So ditch the mundane and embrace the extraordinary! Plant a rainbow of garlic this fall, and watch your garden transform into a vibrant, flavorful wonderland. You'll be rewarded with bigger, bolder bulbs, richer, more nuanced flavors, and the satisfaction of knowing you're growing something truly special. Plus, you'll impress your friends and family with your garlic guru status – who wouldn't want to be the keeper of the fiery, fragrant secrets of the underworld?

Imagine "Chesnok Red," a Russian renegade with cloves like ruby jewels, packing a punch that would make dragons weep. Or "Purple Glazed," a glamorous Italian draped in shimmering skins, whispering tales of sweet spice and long storage. "Music," a Czech charmer, serenades your senses with mellow warmth, while "German White," a stoic Bavarian, delivers Teutonic power with a hint of frost. And then there's "Metechi," the Georgian firebrand, guaranteed to set your culinary world ablaze! So grab your gloves, get ready to groove, and plant a rainbow of hardneck happiness. Soon, your garden will be a garlic disco, dancing under the autumn sun, waiting to burst into a symphony of flavor next summer. Let the funky feast begin! So, channel your inner garlic gladiator and plant these bad boys this fall. In spring, they'll rise like victorious phoenixes, their scapes waving emerald flags in the breeze. Harvest their bounty, unleash their power in the kitchen, and savor the glorious victory of homegrown, hardneck garlic! Remember, with great flavor comes great responsibility – use these potent pugs wisely, and your taste buds will forever sing your praises!

Buckle up, garlic gladiators! Fall is fightin' time, and the ultimate weapons in this fragrant war are none other than the fierce, flavorful warriors of the hardneck garlic clan. These aren't your supermarket wimps – these are fire-forged bulbs, battle-tested for cold climates and ready to paint your taste buds with vibrant landscapes of pungency.

Let's meet the champions:

  • Chesnok Red: This Russian bruiser (think Ivan Drago of garlic) boasts ruby cloves that pack a heat that'll make your sinuses salute. Its thick neck stands tall against winter's icy blasts, a stoic sentinel guarding your precious harvest.

  • Music: Don't let the delicate Czech name fool you. This bulb's got rhythm, a mellow symphony of sweet spice that dances on your tongue. Its pearly white cloves whisper tales of long storage, keeping the party going well into winter.

  • German White: Precision personified, this Teutonic titan delivers Teutonic power with a hint of frost. Its pearly white cloves pack a wallop that'll awaken your inner viking, perfect for roasting meats or adding backbone to stews.

  • Metechi: This Georgian firebrand is the Cassius Clay of the garlic world – a quick jab of heat followed by a smooth, lingering right hook of complexity. Its vibrant purple stripes warn of its fiery nature, but don't be intimidated – its smoky depth will leave you begging for more.

groeat farm hardneck garlic
hardneck garlic bulbs which will be used as seed garlic in the fall

Planting garlic in the fall is a garden's most hopeful investment. If you've been growing chives, or onions for any length of time, odds are you've been enticed by growing your own garlic -- just as cooler weather was beginning to creep in. And, if you're a procrastinator, you might still be able to tuck a few garlic cloves into the almost-icy ground that's just this side of freezing.

At GROEat Farm, we typically begin planting individual garlic cloves between October 15, and finish the planting when the goblins and skeletons show up at our doorstep asking for candy; AKA Haloween.

In the spring when the shoots are about 12" tall, it is time to bring your garlic plants up to speed. With a little finesse, they could be and should be major players in your garden. Treat your garlic like royalty during the spring with enough moisture (but not overwatering) and fertilizer (I use kelp meal and fish emulsion) once every three weeks until early July. Sure, you can fuss and pamper these plants if it makes you happy. But garlic is strong-willed and has proven that over the past 4,000 years. Sometimes garlic does not need that extra maintenance, though be sure to keep the garlic patch weed-free.

Planting garlic cloves in the fall aren't just symbols of hope as "stinking rose" ambassadors of the growing season. It's the promise of that early spring growth, the green shoots pushing their way through the white snow in early spring -- that makes them irresistible. If you find yourself completely overstimulated by the sheer volume and spectrum of garlic available online, or bored by the plain old garlic found in your grocery store, here are a few standouts that are just different enough to make them alluring and tasty at the same time.

If you missed the opportunity to plant garlic in the fall, you can still be in the game. You can plant seed garlic (cloves) in the very early spring, just as the soil becomes workable. As soon as the soil thaws, plant garlic. Search for seed garlic that has been vernalized (exposed to cold). Contact GROeat Farm for your seed garlic needs. Plant the cloves, pointy-side up, as soon as possible, February, March, or April.  Instead of bountiful behemoths, at harvest time, you will likely unearthed cloves more suited for a dollhouse kitchen. They will be cute, sure, like garlic miniatures sculpted by some mischievous garden gnome. But for your epic culinary dreams, plant hardneck garlic in the autumn.

Purple Glazer is a beautiful cultivar (cultivated variety) that almost glows in the dark from its beautiful purple color. Purple Glazer is known for being one of the best garlic for baking, cooking, and eating raw. It has moderate heat that is not over-powering making it perfect for dishes that call for raw garlic (pesto, salsa, bruschetta and dips).  When cooked, it produces warm, rich and complex flavors. Cloves are moderate to large in size and are easy to peel.  

When the coves of the Persian Star are peeled, the tips look like a “Persian star”, hence the name.  Persian Star is one of the most stunning of the Purple Stripes with its thick white bulb wrappers that are streaked with purple as you peel away the outer wrappers.  With vivid clove colors, a rich and mild spicy zing, and large easy-to-peel cloves, this is tasty and beautiful garlic. It is considered a true hardneck with a single circle of cloves around a central woody stem. It is a superior all-around garlic with a delectable flavor with a mild spice. Persian Star lends itself to roasting, baking, or enjoying raw.   It also goes by other names including Samarkand and Duganskij, and Duganski;  They apparently originated in Uzbekistan, a central Asian Islamic republic that was once part of the USSR.

Music is a very popular hardneck garlic and is prized for its jumbo cloves, long storage potential, and strong field performance in cold climates. In good growing conditions, Music can produce big bulbs with fat, easy-to-peel cloves. Skins are very thick and tightly wrapped, with creamy-white appearance. Music is hot when eaten raw, and has a deep, sophisticated flavor when cooked with medium spiciness. Music garlic is named after Canadian grower Al Music, who reputedly brought this variety from Italy in 1980. Similar to German Extra-Hardy, with large succulent cloves, Music became known as a very good cold-climate variety.

Spanish Roja is a popular Rocambol Hardneck. It’s flavor is superb, full-bodied, rich and sweet. The garlic heat index is: moderate-to-hot heat. The cloves are easy to peel making it a favorite for chefs and cooks. Bulbs are 2" - 3" and larger and average 8-10 cloves. The wrappers that cover the bulb can be cream on the outside and deep purple closer to the cloves. The local restaurants in our area demand this variety because they find the flavor to be “true garlic”. Spanish Roja originated in Spain. Spanish Roja would eventually travel to the New World and find its way to the Northwestern region of the United States just before 1900. It is also called Greek garlic by home gardeners. From a grower's perspective, the leaves of the Spanish Roja are broader as compared to a Porcelain. The overall height of the plant is shorter as well. Plants in our region typically grows to 12-18" tall with a spread to 6-9" wide. This garlic produces a dark green plant with healthy leaves and is a very good survivor.

Quick facts: Garlic grows best in well-drained, moisture-retentive soil with pH between 6.0 and 7.0. Plant cloves in the fall, usually one or two weeks after the first killing frost. Unless you control weeds early, they can easily overtake young garlic plants. Insects are not a major problem with garlic, although onion maggot is a potential pest. Depending on variety and climate zone, harvest garlic between late June and late July.

Tags: Garlic, hardneck garlic, softneck garlic, cultivars, varieties, garlic types, montana garlic, hardneck grown, when to plant, zone 4, zone 5. Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming, California. Tags: #Garlic, #Hardneck, #GarlicFarm, #LocalFarming, #StoringGarlic, #WhentoHarvestGarlic, #Storage, #Curing, #CuringGarlic, #FarmersMarket, #Ranch, #Farm

Groeat Farm
Grizzly Bear Basket of Hardneck Garlic

Jere Folgert is the owner of GroEat Garlic Farm in Bozeman, Montana. GroEat Farm is a small, sustainable family farm located in the beautiful Hyalite Foothills, in the shadows of the Gallatin Mountain Range. The hardneck varieties that they grow on their farm flourish, due to the combination of the cold winters, temperate summers, moist spring, and the dynamic alluvial soils, washed down from the Gallatin Range.

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