2012 Garlic Harvest Recap

Well, the results are in for the 2012 garlic crop here at HA, and I have to say it was a good year. No, make that a great year! Almost every variety I planted did better this year than last, with the notable exception of Japanese. I’m not sure why the Japanese variety did poorly, because it has been a good performer here in the past.

Music porcelain garlic (click on any image to enlarge)

The average bulb sizes were up dramatically from last year, with almost a 40% increase. The largest sized variety was Music, which is not surprising given that it is noted for its high yields and large bulbs, with Lorz Italian coming in a close second. Newcomers Simonetti (softneck artichoke), Red Janice (hardneck turban) and Viola Francese (softneck) round out the top five in terms of size.

Lorz Italian artichoke garlic

The ‘most improved’ award has to go to Ajo Rojo, which was near the bottom in size last year. This year it was almost twice as big, so it seems to be getting acclimated to growing conditions here. It is also possible it liked the mild, mostly dry winter we had. Whatever the reasons, it is a great tasting and long keeping garlic and I’m happy with the results. Those white outer skins hide the red skinned cloves that are typical with the Creole type garlic varieties.

Ajo Rojo creole garlic

All the varieties did so well that it will be hard to eliminate any from the 2012 plantings based on size alone. But I do need to pare the list down a bit. Ironically, though Music is the winner based on size, I’m not sure how much I really like this garlic. The cloves are huge – almost as big as elephant garlic cloves. That is not always a benefit in the kitchen. If you need just a little garlic for a dish, this isn’t the one. It generally has 5 or 6 large cloves per bulb. And it doesn’t always keep well for me. But those big fat cloves will surely be nice for dehydrating. I think I just talked myself into growing it again!

S&H Silver silverskin garlic

S&H Silver was a surprise, doing a lot better in its first year than Silver White or Nootka Rose, both of which I’ve grown for several years here. All three are softneck silverskin varieties. Nootka Rose is one of my best keepers, and has a great, fiery flavor when fresh and raw. If S&H Silver keeps as well as the other two, we should have plenty of garlic to last through the winter.

Aglio Rossa di Sulmona creole garlic

Aglio Rossa di Sulmona was another newcomer that did great in it’s first showing. I got the planting stock from Seeds from Italy. It’s a little known variety that “originates in the area around Sulmona in the region of Abruzzo, Italy”. It’s listed as a softneck in their catalog, but Filaree Farms calls it a Creole type, which is what it appears to really be. If it keeps like Ajo Rojo, it will be a great addition to our lineup. It has a wonderful taste raw. And yes, I do sample many of the garlics raw. Thank goodness I have an understanding wife who loves garlic too, even when it’s secondhand!

Bogatyr purple stripe garlic

Bogatyr was the best performing purple stripe variety here, nudging out Metechi for yield. I’ll grow both of these again. Purple skin types don’t always do well here so it will be interesting to see if either of these do better after acclimating to our climate.

Last year I experimented with a 8 inch spacing on some of the plants, instead of my usual 6 inch by 6 inch grid spacing. While it was certainly easier to weed, I can’t say there was any increase in yield. I may do it again this fall if I have the room, because it was easier for me to get a hoe around the plants with the wider spacing. And the bulbs certainly weren’t any smaller.

garlic bed with 8 inch spacing

All total I harvested about 21 pounds of garlic this year, not counting the scapes or green garlic.  I’ll be back later this week with a recipe for pickled garlic.

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19 Responses to 2012 Garlic Harvest Recap

  1. Andrea says:

    What an impressive garlic harvest. You must be so pleased with such a great crop, I hope they store well for you . looking forward to your pickling recipe.

  2. Jenny says:

    awesome harvest of garlic! I’ll have to try some of the varieties next year.

  3. kitsapFG says:

    Wow that is a huge garlic harvest and you have so many varieties. I am thinking about adding another soft neck variety to my planting this fall. Was thinking about Polish White based on a recommendation of a gardening friend. Have you grown that variety before and if so, did you like it?

    • Dave says:

      I’ve never tried Polish White, but it sounds like a great garlic. That’s part of my problem – I want to try them all!

  4. Oh, what a wonderful variety of garlic you have there! We’ve been winnowing the number of varieties we grow but these are sorely tempting. It’ll take us another year to acclimatize the Rosso di Sulmona we got from Seeds of Italy, but nice to hear yours did well. What accounts for the increase in size, is it selecting for size?

    • Dave says:

      I wish I could say for certain. I do select for size, and I have been enriching the garlic beds with plenty of compost. Then I sidedress in spring with blood meal.

  5. maryhysong says:

    Holy Cow thats a lot of garlic! Thanks for the rundown on your varieties. I am going to plant garlic this fall and am just thinking about what kinds I want to try.

  6. Norma Chang says:

    I am so impressed with your organizing skills and keeping track of the different garlic varieties that you plant. Mine would get all mixed up after the first year.
    This year was a better garlic year for me compare to last year, wonder if it had to do with the mild winter?

  7. Michelle says:

    Ah, I’m so envious of that amazing garlic! Great job. You won’t have any vampires hanging around this year. 🙂

  8. Daphne says:

    I’ve always had trouble keeping track of which variety is which. I just winnowed my “brown” mustard and whoops that was the yellow mustard. I just can’t keep things straight sometimes. So now I only have one garlic. It makes it easy to know what it is. Like your Music it makes a small amount of large bulbs which I like. I’m OK with tons of garlic in something. Though it does mean I have to take a significant part of the harvest and use it for seed.

  9. zentMRS says:

    Wow – that is impressive!! How much space do you use for your garlic?

    • Dave says:

      I have one 4×8 bed, and another area that is about 5×8. So that would be around 72 square feet. Though I do rotate the garlic every year so it isn’t in the same beds. There is certainly room for improvement there!

  10. Dave's SFG says:

    Thanks for the garlic survey. I have to pick just two varieties for the fall, which is going to be tough. This will be my first attempt at growing garlic, hope mine do as well as yours.

  11. You must be an expert garlic grower! Congrats on such an amazing harvest.

  12. Rick says:

    Great harvest of garlic. Thanks for the breakdown of the different types. I guess I need to branch out a little and try some different types. I don’t even know the name of the variety we are growing. We bought it from a local farmer and really liked it, so we saved some to plant. I never thought to ask him the type and now he doesn’t sell at our farmers market any more!!

  13. Bee Girl says:

    What a phenomenal garlic harvest!!! I love that you’ve tried so many varieties! Looks like you’ll have no trouble getting through the year with plenty of garlic left to spare 🙂

  14. Liz says:

    How good is that? – you heads look fabulous. I am still making my way through last years crop but it is definitely starting to shoot and this years is still a few (actually quite a few) months off. I will be very cross if I have to buy garlic though…

  15. Jody says:

    Your garlic post last year inspired me to place a big order and keep close records. You’ve come through again! We grew completely different varieties but came out at almost the same weight total. We grew 19 pounds. Like you we tried Aglio Rossa for the first time this year. It did much better than the purple marbled varieties we tried. We tasted it raw too, and we think it’s delicious. Belle also likes the smaller cloves for cooking. I took the time to peel 10 or 12 ounces that she’s keeping in a jar in the fridge for quick access. Thanks for the details in this post. I enjoyed every bit. You can read about my somewhat less detailed garlic harvest on this weeks Harvest Monday.

    • Dave says:

      Thank you so much for sharing this! I don’t know about you, but I was amazed at the differences in all the garlic varieties. Not just in how well they did, but how different they could taste. The raw, fresh Nootka Rose had my eyes watering and me crying for my mama! The Aglio Rossa was, by comparison, a little tamer but still very tasty.

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