11.19.2012 Garlic!

Yesterday was all about the stinking rose.  Don’t ask.  I don’t know how garlic came by such a flowery name.  That’s just what “they” call it.  Anyway, I am determined to have a better garlic harvest next year since the 2012 crop was a bit disappointing.  Okay, it was a lot disappointing.

This year, I still didn’t shell out for named varieties from the seed companies.  Much too expensive until I figure out how to grow the stuff well.  Instead, I planted some of the hardneck purple garlic I buy in the late summer from Wal-mart.  I’m always excited to see it arrive in the store.  It’s got a much bolder flavor than the garlic that is available for most of the year.  It doesn’t keep forever, and my remaining stash had faded toward brown, but it was still firm when I broke it apart to separate the big cloves from the small ones.

The softneck braid, possibly Rose du Var.

I also wanted to grow a softneck, braiding garlic and I managed to find a garlic braid at, where else, Wal-mart.  This stuff was a lovely rose color once I got past the white skin paper.  I’ve cooked a little with it and it’s not as “in-your-face” garlicky as I prefer, but it is decent enough to propagate another generation.  Besides, garlic braids make lovely home décor.

And this is what the braid looks like when the cloves are pulled off their head.

The trouble with buying garlic from Wal-mart is they never sell it by its varietal name.  You get garlic or elephant garlic or, rarely, braided garlic.  However, I have this nifty book which I have not read in its entirety yet, called The Complete Book of Garlic – A Guide for Gardeners, Growers and Serious Cooks by Ted Jordan Meredith.  He has color pictures of many of the more commonly available varieties.  Based solely on those color photos, I think my braiding garlic may be ‘Rose du Var’ and my bold purple stuff is likely to be Polish Hardneck.

Once I had all my cloves separated, I took the big ones out to the garden and planted them in the empty half of the carrot row.  2 inches deep and 5 inches apart, with a top dressing of compost.  (Lovely stuff, our compost.)  I then reset the irrigation hoses on that row, but they really don’t seem to be emitting much water.  I suspect I have a major leak under the silver mulch in one of the other garden rows – something that shouldn’t take that long to track down, if I could ever find the time.  In the meantime, the carrot/garlic row is not under the plastic mulch.  I’ve just got it mulched with straw, so the rain can get to the soil – if it ever rains again.  For some reason, the carrot row doesn’t have major Bermuda grass issues, like most of my garden.  Maybe carrots repel wire grass.  I will test that theory next year by planting carrots in a heavily grass infested row.

Shortly after I’d finished mulching the row with straw, a friend sent over several heads of the garlic she grew this year.  It’s a hardneck variety for which I haven’t taken the time to try and identify.  Nor have I planted it yet.  She got her “seed stock” from Costco last year and she says it grows well in our climate without a lot of care, or water, for that matter.  It was very hot and extremely dry here this past summer.  I shared some of my braiding garlic with her, so we’ll both be growing the same 3 varieties for 2013 (She had her own stash of the bold purple stuff.  She likes it too.)  So far, I have put in about a 100 cloves of the braiding garlic and 20 of the purple.  Now for the long wait until harvest . . .

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