I took advantage of a rainy Saturday here to clean up and weigh our 2013 garlic crop, which had been curing for three weeks. Counting the scapes and green garlic I harvested earlier on, the total amount of garlic harvested this year was just over 20 pounds. Right at 17 pounds of that was the main crop of cured garlic. For the two of us, that is a lot of garlic!
But then, we use a lot of garlic. I looked back at the menu for the past week, and garlic figured in almost every lunch and dinner meal. It was in the chickpea burgers and in the yogurt tahini sauce I served up with them one night. It was in a marinade for pork tenderloin I grilled. It also went in a marinara sauce I made from 2012 tomatoes as we cleared out the freezer to make room for this years stuff. A garlic, herb and olive oil mix served as a sauce for pita pizzas. And garlic went in the dressing for some grilled chicken ratatouille. To finish the week, my wife made some Baba Ghanoush with a few of our Italian eggplants, and several cloves of garlic went into that. And then she made Blackened Salmon for dinner last night, and our dehydrated garlic went into the blackening mix.
In terms of average size, a newcomer here called Russian Red made the biggest bulbs. It’s a rocambole type, and averaged in at a big 2.7 ounces per bulb. The individual cloves are big and fat too. If it tastes good, and keeps well, it will make a good addition for our garlic lineup. For reference, in all the photos that’s a U.S. quarter and an Australian fifty cent piece along with a four inch plastic label.
Another newcomer was a porcelain type called Pennsylvania Dutch. It averaged 2.3 ounces each, and it has nice big bulbs too. Hopefully it will keep better than the Music variety (another porcelain type), which grows well here but usually doesn’t keep even until replanting time.
But most of the ‘oldtimers’ did well this year also. I have grown a turban type called Uzbek for several years now. It is a dependable performer – not too big but not too small either. It’s not a great keeper, but should keep for five or six months. And it has a lovely flavor. It averaged 1.2 ounces per bulb.
The other turban types weighed in heavier, with Red Janice the biggest at 1.8 ounces each and Shilla second largest at 1.6 ounces. Both keep about the same as Uzbek.
Lorz Italian is one of my favorite garlics, both for productivity and for keeping qualities. Plus it has a great taste both raw and when baked whole. It’s an artichoke type, so named because the cloves are in overlapping rows that resemble the leaves on an artichoke. It averaged 2.2 ounces per bulb. Simonetti was the largest artichoke type this year, at 2.4 ounces per bulb, but I’m not sure it is any improvement on Lorz Italian. Slow Food USA says that the Lorz family brought their garlic from their home in Italy to the Columbia River valley in the early 1900’s.
Silverskin types are good keepers and I have several varieties that perform well for me. Nootka Rose is my favorite. It’s an heirloom variety from Washington state with a nice strong garlic flavor. It gets its name from the pinkish red skins that cover the easy to peel individual cloves. I had a few of the 2012 bulbs that were still good when I dehydrated them last month. Any garlic that taste great and keeps for 11 months is a real keeper!
Not all the garlic did that well however. I lost all the the Chinese Purple, and only two of eight Chinese Pink made it. I’m not sure what the problem is, but I won’t plant either of them again. And I tried Persian Star one more time. It’s a purple skinned type that just does not seem to like our climate. It only averaged .75 ounces per bulb. I’m not sure if I will plant it again or not. It’s pretty to look at, but who cares about that when it comes time to eat it!
And the creole types struggled this year. They seem to like a warm winter like we had in 2011-12, but not the colder wetter winter that we had in 2012-13. Both Ajo Roja and Rossa di Sulmona made smaller bulbs than they did last year. But both are great keepers, lasting as long as Nootka Rose, so I will keep on planting them for another year.
I will store our garlic in a storage room we have in our basement. There is some debate on how best to store garlic, but I aim to keep it in a cool (55-65°F) and moderately moist (40-60% humidity) environment. That is what garlic expert Ron Engeland (of Filaree Farm) recommends in his book “Growing Great Garlic”. The only thing lacking in that room is good air circulation, but the garlic seems to keep well enough for me even without it.
I hope you have enjoyed this recap of the 2013 garlic crop here at Happy Acres. To see what other gardeners are harvesting, visit Daphne’s Dandelions, where Daphne hosts the Harvest Monday series.