Common garlic Allium sativum - Soft neck Garlic, Italian Garlic, Silverskin Garlic. There are two main 'types' of common garlic - the so-called 'artichoke' garlics we buy in the supermarket, and the 'silverskins', with either very white, or white blushed rose outer skins. The bulbs of the common 'artichoke' types outer parchment is white, or off-white. There is usually a row of decent sized cloves around the outside, and irritatingly smaller, thinner cloves in the interior (altho' there are varieties with few, but quite large, cloves). As we all know, removing the skin from these cloves is not easy. The bulb is wrapped in many layers of parchment, which continues up to form a soft parchment like neck ideal for using to braid all your bulbs together on a string to hang in the kitchen! This garlic keeps well. Silverskins have the strongest flavor, and have numerous small cloves. They are very white, and the neck is sturdy and well suited to plaiting. The 'Creole' sub-group of the silverskin type is atypical, because they have only 8-12 cloves, are mild, and have a rose colored outer skin.
Hardneck Garlic Allium
sativum var.ophioscorodon - Serpent Garlic, Stiffneck
Rocombole Garlic, 10 clove garlic, Top Setting Garlic, Bavarian Garlic,
Porcelain Garlic, Purple stripe garlic.
These garlics have a stiff, sometimes thick, neck, usually with fewer, even sized cloves arranged around the central 'neck'. Cloves number from four to twelve or so, depending on the variety. They are generally less reliable in changeable weather conditions than soft necked garlics, with the exception of the rocombole type.
The most distinctve of the three main hardneck types is 'Rocambole' Garlic. This garlic is similar to common garlic, but has two important differences. First, unlike common garlic, it throws up a flowering stem, called a 'scape'. Second, the bulb has relatively little outer parchment. This last difference has a positive and a negative side. On the negative side, the individual cloves are often exposed, can be knocked off the bulb by rough handling, and can wither a bit after long storage. In addition, the bulbs don't look anything like as attractive as bulbs of common garlic. On the positive side, they are a dream to remove the skin from -it is trivially easy- there is only one ring of decent sized cloves arranged around the woody central flower stalk and no smalls or thins, and it keeps almost as well as common garlic if stored carefully. The tall flowering scape , for reasons of its own, makes a twisting loop as it unfurls it's 'flower' head (which contains not flowers, but tiny little bulbils). Thus it's alternative name, 'serpent garlic'. Clipping the flower stalk off early on significantly improves bulb size.
It needs a cool winter and spring, and simply will not suceed in hot areas.
Purple Stripe Garlic has very white, thick, bulb skins, streaked with bright purple. They are quite a variable group, with some strongly flavored, some mild, some mid season,some late maturing. They store fairly well.
Porcelain Garlic includes varieties with few (4-8), large fat cloves covered in a very thick, very white bulb skin. The taste is usually strong. They store moderately well if free of disease.
Porcelain image at Filaree Farms
Artichoke garlic varieties JJJJ Gourmet Garlic Gardens have a very good, considered page on the 12 or so varieties of 'artichoke' garlic (the common supermarket type) they sell, the pros and cons of each variety.
history, and virtues JJJJJ
Gourmet Garlic Garden have a photo-illustrated guide to the
of garlic in general - both hard neck and soft neck garlic, and their
differences and more.
Simoneti garlic at Garlic Foods (a common garlic type from the SSR Georgia)
Metechi image (purple stripe type) at Gourmet Garlic
image at Garlic Foods
Chinese purple garlic image at Garlic Foods. This is an extremely hot garlic with characteristics intermediate between soft and hardneck types.
Asian Rose image at Gourmet Gardens. (An early, very hot cultivar.)
Temperate areas- plant
the first good frosts of autumn. Spring planting is possible in the
latitudes, as the longer day lengths promote bulbing, but the shorter
means the bulbs are often smaller. Autumn garlic will produce roots,
either no, or short, top growth. If the garlic sprouts have emerged,
will survive freezes and snowfalls, but they should be mulched heavily
(about 15 cm/6 inches) to prevent heaving. Pull the mulch aside in
Autumn planted garlic will have strong roots by winters icy grip, and
roots will help prevent the 'seed' being pushed out of the ground as
soil alternately freezes and thaws ('frost heave').
give the best possible drainage
It is important to have a free draining soil. While cloves put in early in winter will have a longer cold treatment and will respond to lengthening days more quickly than those put in later, there is always a risk of the cloves rotting in a cold wet soil. Especially if the cloves are of dubious quality, or if you have a history of disease problems in your own saved seed cloves. Commercially, the seed cloves are often soaked in rugged fungicides prior to sowing to minimize this problem, but this is not an option for most of us. Excellent drainage is very important to give the edge on climate and disease.
give your plants an unreasonable
Your garlic is likely in a race against root rotting disease and stem and leaf diseases. The better the leaf growth before bulbing starts, the bigger the bulb and the cloves will be. This translates to 'early care pays dividends later'. And also at the main growing stage, give your garlic every advantage to grow more than the disease will damage. Provide a free draining soil by amending it with sand, potting mix, well finished compost, leaf mould, or whatever. Consider a raised bed, or large tub culture. Before sowing, beef up the nutrient status of your soil by working in a complete fertilizer (5N - 10P - 10K) at about 225gms/half a pound per 7.5 Metres/25 feet of 30 cm/12 inch wide row. Once they have started growth in spring, give them regular - say fortnightly - very light side dressings of urea (or other high nitrogen fertilizer), spread 100 mm/6 inches either side of the plants. Liquid manures are also beneficial. Garlic competes poorly with weeds. Keep them as close to meticulously weeded as is possible. Be careful with the hoe- there is nothing more tragic than a beautifully growing garlic plant sliced off at soil level by a hurried hoe! If the weather is dry, mulch them to conserve water. Dry soil when the leaves are developing affects the yield quite badly, so water them well and regularly in dry periods.
either buy clean seed stock or
ideal growing conditions
If you grow garlic regularly, and especially if you keep your own seed cloves, you will almost inevitably end up with a greater or lesser degree of disease in your soil and seed stock. This shouldn't prevent you from growing garlic, be we do need to accept that we have to put extra effort into keeping the plants in best possible condition when they start growing, and accept that is very wet years we may lose the lot. Even if you have disease in your soil, it is probably best to by clean seed cloves every year, as they will get a good start before becoming infected. Rocombole can usually be relied on to produce something, even when your common garlic is a total loss. Garlic that is water stressed in it's early growing period can 're-vernalise', which means the plant in effect 'cancels' the side buds that were about to grow into cloves, and produces a single fat, low quality clove instead. Cold winters largely prevents this phenomenon, so it is chiefly a problem for warm temperate areas. The same thing can happen if the plant is exposed to unseasonably high spring temperatures-29C/85F or above. The solution is keep the garlic well watered if there is a dry spell in spring, mulch to keep the soil, at least, cool, and keep your plants growing strongly.
use the most suitable variety
Some garlic strains will just not bulb satisfactorily in your area. Garlic varieties are adapted to a fair range of day lengths, intensity of cold, and accumulated heat conditions. Don't expect all varieties to do well in your area. 'Wrong' varieties may grow very well, but not bulb properly, re-growing from the barely formed new season cloves without the top dying back and without forming a proper bulb at all. Try locally sold seed cloves. They may well be- but certainly not certain to be- the best variety for your climate. In mild and cool climate areas 'rocombole' garlic is far more forgiving of the vagaries of climatic conditions than common garlic. Equally, in hot areas, the 'creole' silverskin types are far more reliable than most other garlics.
For example, it was very wet this year in Pittsburgh, PA, where I live and garden. The plants had just started to turn brown when I checked the first one. It was already down to 3 sheaths!!! You might want to warn people what happens if they wait too long - the garlic opens up and it's nearly impossible to get out of the ground. (And the garlic you do find is already starting its growth cycle, so it doesn't keep.)" - RC, Pennsylvania. USA
If you intend to keep
own clove seed, select the biggest and best bulb. Leave the cloves on
bulb, and at planting time select only the best cloves to use as seed
But store your seed bulbs in a relatively cool, dry place-heat in
can cause the seed cloves to develop into a plant that produces a
large clove , rather than a normal multi clove bulb. Prolonged very low
temperatures can also disrupt proper growth.
Garlic Gardens JJJJJ site
covers everything garlic - medicinal properties, growing, varieties,
chemistry of garlic, cooking. They sell garlic as well. The growing
is oriented to the heat of Americas Texas state, but is nevertheless
L2 New Gothic MT
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