• Jere Folgert

Extraordinary Garlic for Fall Planting

Updated: Sep 2

If you hear "Garlic" and think of "bad breath," we need to talk. There is no reason why you should flash immediately to "smelly or stinking rose" when garlic is mentioned.

The fall planting of garlic cloves may be 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.

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 apparently 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.

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