Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Garlic for 2010

I ordered my seed garlic from Filaree Farm back on July 21 and received it last week. You have to order early if you want to have a large variety to choose from, they sell out of their most popular strains early. They were already sold out of a number of interesting varieties when I placed my order, but there was still a lot to choose from and I think I found some interesting strains. The catalog and website have tons of information about garlic and I've quoted extensively below.

Here's a photo of the garlic bed all ready to be planted. I had to do a little work to deter the moles from getting in, arrrgh... I laid out my drip lines 8 inches apart and planted the cloves 4 inches apart, one row on either side of a line. I worked in some crab meal, sulfate of potash, humic acid, and a slow release turkey poop fertilizer before planting.

This year I chose 4 softneck and 4 hardneck varieties. Certain strains of hardneck garlic, such as rocamboles, do best in climates that are colder mine so I avoided those. What I ended up with are 2 Silverskins and 2 Artichoke types, both softnecks. For hardnecks I got 3 Turban types and one Purple Stripe. You can read the Filaree Farm descriptions about these various types below. I took photos of the cloves after I separated them all, you can see them above the descriptions that I copied from Filaree Farm.

Last year my crop was heavily infected with rust and I ended up with bulbs that were about 1/3 normal size. I've been using it for cooking, it tastes fine, although all those little cloves can be a pain to peel.

From the Filaree Farm website:
Species Allium sativuum; Subspecies sativuum

Silverskins are the type most often found on supermarket shelves due to their very long storage life. They are the highest yielding variety and do well in a wide range of climates, from hot southern to wet maritime and cold northern climates as well.

Plant growth is more upright than other types. Leaves are often narrow and pale green despite healthy plants. Silverskins rarely produce flower stalks in mild climates, but may when stressed by cold winters or drought conditions.

Bulb wrappers are fine and smooth, usually all white. Three to six clove layers are common. Total cloves per bulb vary from 12 to 20. Outer cloves are usually flat and wide while inner cloves are tall, narrow and concave. Silverskins have long been the most popular garlics for braiders because of the smooth, shiny skin and symmetrical shape. Silverskins are the last to be harvested and may lodge (fall over) a week or more before harvest due to their weak necks.

Sicilian Silver (Silverskin) - Even baked you'll experience full complex flavor. Raw it starts mild, then explodes! Original source unknown.

Mexican Red Silver - Enjoy baked with its light flavor and low heat. Relish raw when it's hot and strong. From Mexico via J. Swenson.

Species Allium sativuum; Subspecies sativuum

Artichoke strains are very vigorous and large bulbed. Plants are shorter than hardneck varieties with more spreading rather than upright leaves. The leaves are broader than any other variety and a deeper green than most. While Artichokes do not normally produce a seed head, they often produce large bulbils that protrude from the lower third of the stem. When stressed Artichokes can produce hard necks and seed heads. Cloves planted from these bulbs will usually revert to soft necks the following season.

Artichokes are named from their configuration of several overlapping layers of cloves, reminiscent of the true Artichoke. Many Artichoke strains have 3 to 5 clove layers containing 12 to 20 total cloves. Outer cloves are fat and roundish but irregular in shape, often with 3 flat sides and a paper tail at the tip. Inner cloves vary in shape from small, narrow & squarish to small & round. Bulb wrappers are coarse and thick, often with light purple blotches or a yellow stain.

Some Artichoke strains produce large round, symmetrical bulbs while other have a knobby, asymmetrical appearance. Clove skins adhere fairly tightly, one reason for their longer storage life. Many Artichokes exhibit a mild flavor, a characteristic preferred by those who eat their garlic raw for health reasons. A few strains, however, do produce a bite which can be intensified by cold winter growing conditions.

Madrid (Artichoke) - Originally bought in a Madrid marketplace by a California grower. 8 to 10 plump cloves. Mild flavored with just a bit of heat.

Thermadrone (Artichoke) - Commercial strain from France. Impressive, large long storing bulbs.

Turban Group Variety Artichoke
(usually Hardneck - not braidable)

Turbans are closely related to Asiatics, being a subgroup of the Artichoke variety. They are weak bolting garlics, and earlier maturing than any other garlic. They have a very short period of natural rest, and often begin to sprout by planting time in October. The bulbil capsule is a unique turban shape on some strains. Cloves appear ophio style with light glossy pink to brown colors.

Turban garlics usually attain good size even though plants appear small. The heavily striped bulbs are very attractive and ideal for early season marketing before standard Artichokes reach local markets. Turbans may grow softneck in mild winter climates.

China Stripe (Turban) - Delicate purple stripes adorn this attractive bulb. Mild flavor. Purchased in Beijing market by G Czarnecki.

Early Portugese (Turban) - Early maturing, forms 8 solid cloves per bulb. Bulb wrapper lightly striped. Sweet taste with just hint of heat. From Salt Spring Seeds via Flora Baartz.

Red Janice (Turban) - Matures slightly later than other Turbans and stores longer. Bulbs have heavy solid stripes over purple blush. Exceptionally fragrant, sweet and a little spicy baked. Starts hot raw and heat continues to build. Originally from Nmarazeni in Republic of Georgia.

Purple Stripe
Species Allium sativuum; Subspecies ophioscorodon

Named because of the bright purple streaks and blotches on both bulb wrappers & clove skins, these are the most attractive looking garlics. They are also very flavorful, usually winning "best baked garlic" taste tests conducted by Rodale, Sunset Magazine, Martha Stewart and others.

Most strains have 8 to 12 cloves per bulb (more than Rocambole) so clove size is slightly smaller. Cloves are noticeably tallish and crescent shaped. They store slightly longer than Rocamboles & peel almost as easily.

Purple Stripe plants are distinctive from Rocamboles because their leaves grow at wider angles to the stem. Flower stalks may make perfect 270 degree curls that leave bulbil capsules floating and bobbing in the air like birds in flight. Plant height & shape vary of individual strains vary significantly.

Glazed Group - a subvariety of Purple Stripe

These include four beautiful strains that appear Purple Stripe in all respects except that bulb and clove colors are a royal purple tinged with subtle, shiny gold and/or silver hues. Cloves are not as tallish and elongated as standard Purple Stripes and there are fewer cloves per bulb. They mature slightly sooner than standard Purple Stripes.

Purple Glazer (Glazed Purple Stripe) - Similar to Red Rezan. Fat cloves with almost satiny clove wrappers. Originally Mchadidzhvari #1 from Republic of Georgia.

I planted the Turbans as a group as they are the earliest to be harvested. The Silverskins are the last to be harvested, so I planted them in another group. Artichokes are shorter growing so I put them in a group in a couple of outer rows where they won't be overshadowed. Glazed Purple Stripes mature at about the same time as the Silverskins so they were planted with that group.


  1. Hey, we have Sicilian Silver in common. It will be interesting to watch your garlic grow. I'm just learning. How detailed your thinking is!

  2. Hi Stefani, I'm still learning too! It will be interesting to compare notes on the Sicilian Silver, it's the first time I've tried it.

  3. Yummmm. You just made me very hungry for something garlicy. I bought some from Gourmet Garlic Gardens in the summer. I cant wait to eat em next summer!

  4. An impressive collection of garlic varieties and the garlic bed looks good. I love the basket too! I just use garlic I've bought in the market because we can get good bulbs here. I want to grow more this year. Last year we grew them around the terracotta pots watering system and that worked well.

  5. That is a lot of garlic varieties. I only planted three and I think once I figure out which two I want I'm only going to keep two. I have enough trouble keeping them straight. If I had that many garlic varieties I would end up with eight that I didn't know the names of.

  6. Good Luck to your adventure with garlic ~bangchik

  7. flowrgirl1, we both have a long wait ahead of us! I like to get a head start on the garlic harvest by pulling some in the spring before it forms bulbs, it's called green garlic at that stage and is very mild.

    chaiselongue, I can usually get decent garlic at the store or farmer's market, but nobody seems to offer any unusual varieties. And, garlic fresh out the garden is sooo good, especially for roasting whole. I found the basket and a few others like it in Sardinia a few years ago.

    Daphne, you are so much better at practicing restraint than I am! At least I'm down to 8 varieties from 13 last year. I did manage to be very organized when I planted the garlic this year, it shouldn't be difficult to keep the different varieties separate.

  8. Thanks Bangchik, I need some luck this time!

  9. What a great garlic bed, I love what you did with the stones. It's really pretty amazing how many different types of garlic there are.

  10. Hey Michelle, I got rust this year, too. But I didn't see any in 2008, though. Is there anything we can do to prevent it? Do you think it's a bad idea to plant my saved cloves from this year, since they had rust?

  11. Jackie, I had rust in 2008 and it wasn't too bad. In 2009 I grew my garlic in a different bed but in the same general area as 09 and the rust was horrible. I planted new and saved bulbs in 09. So, I'm guessing the rust spores infected the new bed both from the saved garlic and because the spores infected the soil the year before (they're airborne). This year I'm not taking any chances with saved garlic and planted well away from the old location. UC IPM only lists nasty chemicals for commercial growers, nothing for organic or home growers. I may try using some Neem oil, it's not listed as a treatment but it has been a very effective organic treatment for other fungal problems and it did seem to slow the rust down last year once I got around to using it. UC also recommends not planting garlic or onions for 2 to 3 years in an area that had bad rust infections.


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