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Garlic- what variety do you grow ?

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default Garlic- what variety do you grow ?

Post by Chilli-head on 13th August 2010, 12:47 pm

I've had a brilliant result with both Iberian Wight (softneck) and Purple Moldovan (hardneck) this year. I tried both on the light sandy soil of my garden and the heavy clay of the allotment, and despite the weather and the exposed location, the lotty was clearly the best spot.

Now, I know there are some garlic experts on here, so I wonder if anyone can help me on a couple of points. First off, which is likely to keep longer in storage ? I'm sure I read somewhere that one or the other of hardneck/softneck stored better, but I can't remember which way round it was for the life of me.

Second thing - I've now got so much garlic it is tempting to re-use some as seed for next year ... any good reasons I shouldn't pick a few healthy looking bulbs for this purpose ?
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Post by Adrian on 13th August 2010, 1:17 pm

I grow and store hardneck garlic - try to grow enough for the year and double up my crop each year
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Post by Mike on 13th August 2010, 2:07 pm

No matter what varieties you start with you will probably need to "reselect" for your particular land/climate.

I grow a fair amount (no idea exactly how much, 15+ kilos?). I currently grow three varieties.

Softneck --- started with "Polish White" which keeps well. This was a long hard battle but oriignally I wanted some to braid (didn't start out knowin ghow to make "ties" with stiffneck varieties but do now). Over a decade I have managed to select so that I now get uniformly large heads with fewer but larger cloves in the outside layer and delayed spliting of the interior so instead of a zillion uselessly samll cloves there just one or two large ones.

Stiffneck (continental type) ---- German White. This has also been a battle with it wanting to revert to just four cloves. Marginally successful getting large heads with 5 cloves, sometimes 6. Keeps well but unless I can eventually do better may phase out because.

Stiffneck (rocambole type) ---- Elmer's Topset. Local but unknown origin. The old man who grew this and gave to neighbors was dead before the professional growers noticed the qualities of the variety and could question him about where it came from. Unlike most rocambole types does not keep to 8 cloves if the heads are small making it easier to recover size following a bad year. I'm getting heads almost as large as if not just as large as the softneck with 8 cloves. Does not take as large a clove to makle a large plant as the German White. I plant to increase the amount of this one. It keeps well

Now what do I mean by "keeps"? Well we still have remaining on one tie hanging in the ktchen form last year. This year's harvest still in drying racks (the stiffnecks; the sofnecks have been trimmed and drying in hung onion bags). All the types I grow are usable "harvest to harvest".
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Post by Guest on 15th August 2010, 9:51 pm

Thanks Mike. I'm usually lousy at growing garlic so will re-read your tips and see if I can get the hang of it.

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default Re: Garlic- what variety do you grow ?

Post by Mike on 4th September 2010, 2:24 pm

Grange Fair last week.

Four solid days of rain the week preceding meant that we just didn't have a large enough selection of ripe toms, summer squash, beans, etc. (you need a quantity from which to pick a uniform set of the specified number of specimens). I guess I could have dug some carrots but then would have too many too early to store.

But the garlic was ready and so we entered that in the "any other worthy vegetable class" (here you enter what's not otherwise on the list and all the others are in competition with each other unless the judegs decide so much of some one thing they in effect create a class).

Since these looked nicest this year I entered five heads of rocambole (Elmer's Topset) and Penny five heads of my softneck (reselected Polish White) -- a person is only allowed one entry per class.

Took 1st and 2nd place in "any other worthy vegetable"

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default Re: Garlic- what variety do you grow ?

Post by Guest on 4th September 2010, 5:46 pm

Here in France I've setled on a pink variety that keeps well. Most varieties usually say up to January but these have lasted until I can use the "green" new season garlics.

I grow the garlics on sandy soil and only once had to ridge them to help the drainage but usually I have to water occassionally. I do boost the soil with compost and well rotted manure to get large cloves. I have given up over wintering but I do plant in a warm patch in February.

I also use my own cloves for replanting until they get small and then I buy new stock.

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default Re: Garlic- what variety do you grow ?

Post by Mike on 4th September 2010, 8:51 pm

Zoe wrote:Here in France I've setled on a pink variety that keeps well. Most varieties usually say up to January but these have lasted until I can use the "green" new season garlics. ........
I have given up over wintering but I do plant in a warm patch in February.............
I also use my own cloves for replanting until they get small and then I buy new stock.

a) Keeping --- most varieties say to January? Then you have mostly nonkeeping garlic varieties in your area. All the varieties I am growing are keepers, by which I mean "until the next crop comes in".

b) There is nowhere in France except perhaps in the French Alps which has a harsher winter climate than where I am.

c) You need to maintain clove size of your planting stock. Doing a reselection on your own ground important with garlic so if you have to bring in new seed stock you are back to the beginning. Use your largest cloves for planting and if in short supply then those into a specially fertilized (and next year watered) seed bed until you have the quantity up. Resist the temptation to eat the big ones. Select. For example, by selection my "softneck" variety has fewer (but larger) cloves in the outside layer and a delayed splitting of the inner mass into cloves. Took me years of selection beginning with the one or two heads in the crop which displayed this characteristic.

Ideal planting for overwintering: About 5% of your planting appearing above ground before winter. Those of course suffer but the other 95% got maximum development. If none appear aboveground then you could have perhaps planted a week earlier (more root growth) or if more than 5% try a week later. Might I suggest that your problems with overwintering and your problems with long term keeping might be related (the very winter hardy varieties are usually also very good keeping varieties). You can also play around with planting depth to find what's ideal for your local soil and weater.

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Post by Guest on 4th September 2010, 9:02 pm

This is interesting Mike.
As a reference the sand beds in valley went down to -17.5degC (-15 is normal) last winter but the soil warms up (usually) very quickly early spring.

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Post by Compostwoman on 4th September 2010, 10:53 pm

Well done on the 1st and 2nd places in the show M and P!

We are eating the small cloves of our garlic and wow what a flavour! very strong and very "garlicky" IYKWIM

Will be saving the bigger cloves to re plant in a month or so's time...

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Post by Mike on 4th September 2010, 11:26 pm

Zoe wrote:This is interesting Mike.
As a reference the sand beds in valley went down to -17.5degC (-15 is normal) last winter but the soil warms up (usually) very quickly early spring.

That's not cold for us. Just about always gets down to -25C and not unheard of to hit -30C. Also not uneard of to stay below -15C for a week. A winter where it never got below -20C would be freakishly mild.

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Post by Compostwoman on 4th September 2010, 11:34 pm

Do you feel that makes a difference to the growth and/or flavour of your garlic?

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Post by Lizbuff13 on 5th September 2010, 6:04 am

Mike,

Do you have any recommendations on which types of garlic might be the best for my area in the Willamette Valley in Salem Oregon? We usually don't get the cold air that you do, however it will get down below the teens and I think my biggest problem for winter would be the amount of rain we get. Would they all just rot away?

I would like to start growing my own garlic, but know nothing about it. If I started some now, when would I be able to harvest some? Maybe I should just wait until the spring?

Since I have none of my own seed stock, do you have a recommendation on where to start with that?

I have enjoyed reading your advanced tips, but some tips for this novice would be much appreciated!

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default Re: Garlic- what variety do you grow ?

Post by Mike on 5th September 2010, 2:33 pm

About the first question (affect on flavor), I'd say an indirect effect. Most of the mild varieties and similar to garlic plants that are used like mild garlic (eg: "elephant" garlic) aren't very winter hardy and most of the winter hardy varieties are hot/storng tasting.

About garlic for the Northwest I'd have to guess. Are there any commercial garlic growers around you and if so, what do they grow? (you don't have to know the name, just get some heads you know were relatively local).

If no garlic commercially grown in your area, how about experienced veggie gardeners? Thye might know varieites that do best.

But first need to clear something up. Garlic doesn't just "sit there" when fall planted. It's a living thing and though going dormant during some seasons no mre likely to rot than other members of the allium family. How do dafodils do in your area? Do the "rot in the ground"? Garlic comes up with the dafodils. It's "wild" life cycle would be a dormant persion late summer-early fall when the shins around the cloves would have rotted away allowing the cloves to separate some. They would then put out roots and begin growing new plants going dormant when it got too cold, resuming again in the spring. That's what you are duplicating by digging in the summer and replanting spearated cloves in the fall (with more generous spacing between them than would happen naturally).

Note that the garlic I grow here might be up and growing in the spring when we still might get temps down into the teens! (certainly get temps in the lowest 20's). So possibly garlic in your area would be up and growing slowly through the winter? At least the hardy sort. And you could almost surely grow the tender sorts (like the quasi garlic "elephant").

Failing being able to get any from commercial growers or experienced gardeners you'll need to try out a large number of varieties.

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Post by Lizbuff13 on 5th September 2010, 3:47 pm

Thanks for the info Mike. Thank you for pointing out to me the comparison to the daffodils. That is helpful. Sometimes....our daffodils will rot away, however, I am thinking that if the soil is well draining they will do great. I think about the areas that our daffodils do well year after year and they are in well drained areas. Maybe I need to pick some seed stock up at the farmers market next weekend....that would be my best bet!

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Post by Mike on 5th September 2010, 10:01 pm

Lizbuff13 wrote:Thanks for the info Mike. Thank you for pointing out to me the comparison to the daffodils. That is helpful. Sometimes....our daffodils will rot away, however, I am thinking that if the soil is well draining they will do great. I think about the areas that our daffodils do well year after year and they are in well drained areas. Maybe I need to pick some seed stock up at the farmers market next weekend....that would be my best bet!

Yes, if there is garlic being sold at your local farmers market (and that's locally grown garlic) would be your best bet. Pick heads that you can feel have large cloves in them. From the largest cloves come the largest heads the following year and the reverse is true so don't bother planting small cloves. Large and small meaning "for this variety" (relative).

Better than trying a whole lot of one sort try smaller amounts of several varieties keeping in mind that there are fundamental differences between "softneck", "stiffneck" (continental type), "stiffneck (rocambole type), and "elephant" (not a true garlic). If you want "braids" for hanging in the kitchen you don't necessarily need softneck (braidable) as you can make "ties" with the stiffneck types. Look pretty much like braids except hold together better and are quicker/easier than braiding.

May require good draining ground. I know your area commercially grows overwintering alliums (onions) but possibly success with "Walla Walla" onions requires good drainage and so would your garlic. Too cold here where I am to do overwintering onions (except for the perenniel scallions) but I am trying some that are uspposed to be extra hardy amd maybe if we get early deep snow cover they will make it. Frustrating growing onions here. I've once had a good crop, but usually we just don't get the water they need at that critical stage. This year at the fair our garlic bulbs were almost as large as the largest onions being shown (it was a really bad year for onions).

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Post by Guest on 6th September 2010, 5:23 pm

The allegory with a daffodil is a bit difficult. A daffodil, Narcissus is of the Amaryllis family and is planted some 6inches down. Garlic, like an onion is planted just below the surface, at maximum double its depth, and therefore can be frozen if the top few inches of your ground freezes over in winter. A daffodil likes cool conditions and will abort its flower if the temperature rises too quickly. Garlic needs a long growing season to make a large bulb and is thus are planted out in autumn if possible.

You can start garlic off in modules to extend the growing season in the autumn and plant out the shooted bulbs in spring if your winter soil is too wet or the winter is too cold.

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Post by Mike on 6th September 2010, 7:54 pm

Zoe wrote: Garlic, like an onion is planted just below the surface, at maximum double its depth, and therefore can be frozen if the top few inches of your ground freezes over in winter.

Aha! That's the problem.

Yes of course, if growing garlic in a climate similar to its natural habitat you plant the cloves just below the surface. But if you are trying to grow them where subject to severe "frost heaving" (repeated freeze-thaw cycles of the upper layer) you plant them much deeper. The problem isn't that they are killed by freezing but that roots developed in the autumn get broken by frost heaving. The ground here freezes a couple feet deep so they are certainly getting frozen. But at about 3" down less danger of repeated feeze thaw cycles.

The only problem with the garlic being deep planted like that is that you may need to loosen the ground around them with a fork instead of just pulling at harvest time.

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