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.
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.
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.
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 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 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 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.
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.