Yesterday I cleaned up and weighed the last of the 2016 garlic harvest. I started digging the garlic in mid-June, starting with the Turban varieties like Uzben, Xian and Red Janice. From there I dug the artichoke types like Lorz Italian and Simonetti plus the rocamboles, including Russian Red, German Red and Spanish Roja. The last bulbs I dug were the silverskins, Silver White, Nootka Rose and Idaho Silver, which I finished digging on July 12th. I planted out 196 cloves of garlic last fall, and harvested 195 bulbs, which is truly one of my best survival rates ever.
I knew from the early ones I weighed that it was going to be a good year. One of the best growers the last couple of years is Simonetti, an artichoke type originally collected from the village of Simonetti in the Republic of Georgia. It has a relatively mild flavor, and it’s one I like to roast whole.
The biggest bulbs this year came from the artichoke Red Toch. This cultivar hails from the small Georgian village of Tochliavri. The eight bulbs weighed 23 ounces, giving them an average weight of 2.9 ounces. The largest weighed 3.5 ounces, and the individual cloves are huge.
Russian Red is also a good performer for me here, and as a rocambole type it is known for its good flavor. It has large cloves that are reasonably easy to peel, and it also stores well (for a rocambole). The 12 bulbs in the below photo weighed right at 24 ounces total, giving them an average weight of 2 ounces each. That put it in a dead heat with another rocambole called Killarney Red, and the silverskin Silver White, which both also averaged right at 2 ounces per bulb.
The poorest performer this year is a rocambole I planted for the first time called Carpathian. Those 8 bulbs only weighed in at 3.55 ounces total, for an average weight of .44 ounces. As soon as they were dug, even before curing and weighing, I made the executive decision they would not get planted again! I have too many other cultivars that do perform well here for me.
Another newcomer that under-performed is an Asiatic type called Asian Tempest. I’ve grown it before, and it did better then, so I will likely give it another shot next year. Asian Tempest is interesting in that it forms bulbils at the top of the scape, and sometimes even along the middle of the flower stalk, which you can see in the below photo. For that reason I didn’t cut the scapes for this one, and let them do their thing and form the bulbils. You can plant them out and they will eventually make more bulbs, but it will likely take more than one year. I will stick to planting cloves and see if it gets a bit bigger next year. This year the 8 bulbs averaged .83 ounces, which put it in next-to-last place but still considerably bigger than Carpathian.
Xian is a Turban type that did well last year as a newcomer. It averaged 1.73 ounces per bulb this year, making it the second largest Turban type, behind Red Janice which averaged 1.83 ounces/bulb. The Turban types are not good keepers, but they have earliness going for them. I typically use them first, and I think most of them are pretty tasty, especially when raw.
I used another Turban type called Uzbek to make something I’ve never made before. Ninniku Hachimitsu-Zuke is a traditional Japanese ‘sweet pickle’ that is made by infusing garlic in raw honey. I found the recipe in Tsukemono: Japanese Pickling Recipes by Ikuko Hisamatsu, along with recipes for infusing garlic in miso and in soy sauce. Both the honey and the garlic is edible, and is used both in the kitchen and for medicinal purposes as a cold remedy. My Honeyed Garlic has been infusing for three weeks now, and the honey has taken on the flavor of the garlic. In another week I will put the jar in the refrigerator, and likely start another one while the garlic is fresh and plentiful. I used five whole bulbs of the Uzbek in the below jar, after peeling the cloves first.
I will likely try making the garlic in soy sauce soon, Ninniku Shoyu-Zuke. It’s a two step process that involves allowing the garlic to sit in rice vinegar for two weeks, then pouring off 2/3 of the vinegar and replacing with a soy sauce/sugar mixture. In this recipe, the vinegar, soy sauce and garlic are all used in the kitchen. If you think about it, many recipes call for garlic, soy sauce, vinegar and something sweet like honey. I see lots of uses for both recipes, though the Honeyed Garlic is pretty tasty when eaten by the spoonful. I call that preventative medicine, easy to take since I love both garlic and honey.
The total haul for the 2016 garlic harvest was just over 21 pounds. That should keep us supplied in garlic for quite a while! I hope you have enjoyed this review of the 2016 garlic harvest here at Happy Acres. I’ll be back soon with more happenings, and until then Happy Growing!
Your garlic did so well this year – 21 lbs! I’m fairly confident that my garlic did much better than last year, in part because of the side-dressing of organic fertilizer I used in the spring, which was an idea I got from you…so thanks!
The fertilizing has made a big improvement in my garlic. It became obvious to me I wasn’t using enough, which is likely also a problem on other crops like onions, for instance.
I too had a great garlic harvest this year. I live in SW Ohio and I think we had perfect weather for it to grow successfully.
I think the weather was good here too for garlic. Not a real cold winter, ample rain in spring, then it dried out a bit at harvest time.
Both the honey and the soy processes for the garlic sound fantastic. It makes me more disappointed than ever that I can’t grow garlic anymore. I think I’ll have to scout out some fresh garlic at the farmer’s market and try at least one of those recipes. What a great harvest you had, 21 pounds!
That’s a fantastic haul there, Dave. Great selection of varieties as well. Have you tried growing Elephant Garlic at all? It’s technically a leek, with a garlic-like shape, the flavour is like a very mild garlic, but the bulbs are enormous (hence the name) and they store really well.
I have grown elephant garlic, but it’s been a while. As I recall, I didn’t really care for the flavor, though like you say it certainly makes big bulbs!
Ok , I’m impressed. The amount of land you have does allow you to grow this wide variety of heirloom garlic, of which I never heard of before. Husband just started growing garlic last year…I’d say 8 different types. Anyway it’s all new to us so I’m doing a raw taste test with all to determine which ones I like best for repeating this fall. I’m curious how you determine which ones to grow and where the heck do you get them. Also how do you rate them. Glad I found your blog ! Will be back. Patsi at pseewald.com
I do raw taste tests of my garlic too, though I can only do a few at a time before my mouth starts burning and I lose my sense of taste. I also taste the garlic after cooking. For that I wrap a whole bulb in foil and roast it in the oven. I find some garlic is better cooked, and some raw, but it all depends on your tastes and your growing conditions.
As for sources, I get many of mine from Filaree Garlic Farm, and others from Peaceful Valley Farm Supply (GrowOrganic.com). I got my Simonetti from We Grow Garlic in Wisconsin, but they are not selling garlic anymore. The Seed Savers Exchange is also a good source, and if you are a member they have a lot of interesting garlic cultivars listed by members.
At this rate Dave you’ll soon be a leading Authority on garlic-cultivation! 21 pounds of garlic sounds like a good quantity to me – we use a lot of it, especially since we love to cook Asian food a lot. I like the fact that you know, and are interested in, the origins of all the types you grow. This somehow makes growing things that much more “meaningful”.
I found it interesting that two garlics that do well for me both came from the Republic of Georgia. I don’t think our weather is that similar, at least our winters anyway.
The size of some of those garlic heads is AMAZING! Kudos.
Thanks Lou. It’s good to see you back!
Husband used to belong to seed savers exchange for heirloom tomatoes seeds, his collection is close to 1000 different varieties and has grown over 200.
Things change after so many years and we have slowed down . Since garlic is new to us we find this intriguing. Thanks for the reply. ps having trouble with your page…I’m sure it’s on this end