Gotta Garden

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Garlic Thoughts

Although fall isn't really here, it's starting to feel a bit like it. One of September's garden events for me is garlic planting. Well, I try for September but have planted as late as Dec. (don't tell anybody).

Weekend before last, DH took me to a DC farmers market in DuPont Circle. Because we would be spending the day out, I was under strict orders NOT to load up on stuff (so tempting). Therefore, I decided I would limit myself to searching for local garlic.

This thought came upon me rather belatedly, I'm ashamed to admit. Yearly, I order garlic and rather enjoy selecting from the tempting varieties offered. You would think, though, after some seven years of this, that I'd have quite a bit of my own to replant. Not so. I truly hadn't given this much thought until the last year. Two interesting things occurred (with the garlic). One was with some New Mexico Inchellium Red (so called by me because I bought it at the Santa Fe Farmers Market three years ago or so). I was down to my last three cloves last year when I planted it. However, this summer when I harvested those three cloves, they had produced pretty nice heads of garlic...one in particular made me jump up and down (a sight to behold). Hmmm, I thought...(I am prone to stunning thought...) Could it be? Sleep, leap and creep?? And/or acclimation to growing here in Virginia vs. the Southwest??

Added to that was some garlic I bought at a Northern Virginia market (Falls Church?? I forget.) last year which the vendor said they called Korean Rocambole (exact name was unknown). It had done very well for them and they grew it year after year. This particular farm is located in PA, but still a heck of a lot closer than the Pacific Northwest where I usually (and still...two orders coming this fall...some things never change) order my garlic. The Korean Rocambole did pretty well for me, too. Hmmm.

Now, if you recall, I've written about my garlic before. Even showed my harvest. Mostly I talk about the cats lying on it and my frustration with losing track of the name of a particular variety. But, after seven years, I can't point to one and say, "See this one, it grows great for me, year after year." Partly, that is because, as I have mentioned, I like the ordering part...but, I am beginning to think that it is also because I have been impatient and have not given it a chance to adjust properly to very different circumstances. Virginia is just a tad different than Washington or Oregon. I could go off on a tangent about the differences in zone 7, but that's not my point today. (I do have a point. I think.)

So, this year, this season of garlic planting, I will test out my new theories. I will not be so impatient and will plant back more of this summer's harvest than I might normally. Back will go some of the New Mexico Inchellium Red, the Korean Rocambole...and a few others who might not have made the grade in years past. Of course, I will add the garlic currently on order.....and, I will show you (in a minute) what I bought at the farmers market in DC (most of it grown in Maryland, I think).

Funny, I recognized all the varieties from one vendor and asked her if she ordered from the same place I did (she did!). She, however, had much larger garlic to show for her efforts (okay, she grows it to sell and probably pays more attention to it). I tested out my local theory and she agreed (she probably just wanted to sell me some garlic and have me move along!).

Here's what I bought at the market:


The one up at the top is from the first vendor I saw selling garlic and was an impulse buy (I didn't know what else I might find...bird in the hand)...the gal had no idea what kind it was (as if I don't have enough of my own unknowns...I was determined to buy local!). I've grown the three on the paper bags (probably more than once) before, but not starting with local stock. We shall see. The New York White (on the pink paper) is a new one for me, so, of course, I have to try it.

And, here's some of my own sitting in the basement awaiting its fate. Yes, I'm sure you will note the fine conditions under which I store/keep my garlic.


Here's the thing. Like a lot of stuff you grow yourself, the taste of fresh garlic is unbeatable. Don't think that those bins of garlic in the grocery store are really fresh. Okay, they're better than a lot of stuff, but just wait until you grow your own. You will discover how juicy garlic is, how incredible it smells, the nuances of taste (they really are different)...and you will use much more than you ever dreamed. Once you start putting fresh garlic on your garlic bread, you will never go back to powder. Never!

Maybe (most likely) it isn't as big as those heads of garlic in the store...you will win in the taste department, though! My point is that I don't waste garlic, even the small cloves get used...I'm also very picky about my garlic press. We can talk about that another time. Maybe on Gotta Eat.

You have your mission. Grow garlic. Eat garlic. Wear a BIG smile...

9 comments:

kate said...

I love garlic and you've convinced me to try and grow my own. If it tastes so much better than the store-bought kind I'm sold! I had no idea there were so many different kinds of garlic...

Your storage conditions look perfect to me.

Annie in Austin said...

We haven't had much luck growing garlic, but we do eat it and smile. At one time it was rumored to have mosquito repellant qualities, but that hasn't worked out either.

The way you take us along as you go though your thought processes makes this post great fun to read, Gotta Garden ;-]. Thanks!

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Yolanda Elizabet said...

You said the magic word: garlic! It's nice to try out new varieties, isn't it?

This year I grew garlic for the first time and it was a success! Although I planted them late (early Spring) I still got lots of cloves not just 1 big ball of garlic. So thanks for the heads up, I'm off to buy some garlic!

Barbara said...

I love garlic too, but I didn't know there were so many different kinds. In my garden there is always garlic growing, sometimes even between roses.
Barbara

Ki said...

Since we do eat a ton of garlic, I should try growing some especially if the taste is so much better. I do notice the homegrown herbs have so much more taste than the store bought ones. We had a small cilantro volunteer plant that I picked to put in some green curry. It amounted to only a small sprig but it flavored the curry as much as or even more than using a whole big bunch of grocery store cilantro. Same with basil, parsley and haricots vert. We made some pesto the other day and the basil was almost too overpowering. Left a lovely green color in the bottom of the bowl of the aglio e olio we made. The taste was so strong I thought it better to make oil and garlic linguine and add the pesto to the concoction rather than just dumping a whole bunch on some spaghetti.

Blackswamp_Girl said...

I had a wide variation in the garlic heads that I harvested... but an old gardener I know told me to plant only the largest cloves and eat the rest. And when the scapes shoot up, make sure you harvest (and eat) them so energy/effort stays with making the bulb bigger. He swears that doing this means that you end up with larger heads in the fall. I'll let you know next year whether that seems to make a difference or not!

George Africa said...

Several years ago when my son thought fingerling potatoes were the only good potato in the world, he grew several varieties, only to find that the deer enjoyed them as much as he did. He read that garlic would keep the deer away so that fall we scoured farmers markets and bought a little of this and that.

Now about 5 years later we resorted to a commercial grade deer fence but the urge to grow potatoes has passed. Leftover garlic, no longer labeled, grows in curvy lines amongst the weeds. Your comments have encourgaed me to go see what we have.

Thanks for your writing!

George Africa
http://thevermontgardener.blogspot.com
http://vermontgardens.blogspot.com
http://vermontflowerfarm.com

Kylee said...

I'll be planting garlic for the first time this year! It will go in the ground within the week. I hope it works out well, especially after reading your post! I'm looking forward to eating some next year.

lisa said...

Very informative post! I'd heard that "roses love garlic", so I plan to plant some amongst mine this year. As for mosquito repelling properties, it DOES work for me. Not just from eating it, but I take an "odorless" garlic capsule at bedtime, 1000 mg softgel, and the mosquitos barely land on me, and rarely bite. I swear I'd always been their favorite target before the garlic capsules, and had to slather repellent all over or be eaten alive. It's just amazing to me, but it may not work the same for everyone.

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