We are super passionate about garlic. It is one of our favorite crops. Perhaps a little background information will raise your interest in this fascinating crop.
Garlic is a member of the plant family Amaryllidaceae. More specifically, it is a member of the genus Allium (onions). Common garlic belongs to the species sativum, so Allium sativum, or simply A. sativum. This contrasts to the wild garlics of the world which are also members of the Allium family but do not belong to the species Sativum, but rather one of a dozen or so other species. This includes elephant garlic which is a member of the leek family, Allium ampeloprasum.
Garlic has been cultivated for centuries and perhaps for thousands of years. And, because garlic does not reproduce sexually, through pollination, daughter plants which are mostly reproduced by planting the clove of the garlic bulb, are identical clones of the parent (genetically identical). So, you can imagine that the garlic you’re eating today is a genetic clone of the garlic eaten by citizens of the Roman Empire and others around the world at that time. What distinguishes one garlic plant from the next is its environment, even when it’s grown just six inches away from its genetic clone. Isn’t this fascinating?
Garlic is well-known for its many health benefits. Healthline has an article with a nicely summarized list of many of these benefits. Read the article “11 Proven Health Benefits of Garlic” on Healthline. Here is a bulleted list of these benefits:
Garlic, or Allium sativum, can be divided into two difference sub-species; hard necked (Allium sativum ophioscorodon) and soft necked (Allium sativum sativum).
Hard necked garlics produce an infertile flower stem that grows up from the center of the plant. At the top of this “hard” stem (or scape) is a flower (umbel) which contains tiny specialized cloves called bulbils. These can also be planted and are a genetic clone of the parent. However, in the first year you simply get a small “round” for a garlic bulb with one large clove. It can take another two successive years of growth before that bulbil will finally result in a larger bulb of garlic. The scapes of hard necked garlic are considered a delicacy by many and can be used in a variety of ways in the kitchen. For example, you may see us demonstrating garlic scape pesto at one of the area’s farmers markets. Hard necked garlic is preferred by many for their flavor and ease of peeling. However, they tend not to store as well long-term.
Hard necked garlics have several types, including Porcelain, Rocambole, Purple Stripe & Asiatics. Within each of these types there are several varieties.
Most soft necked garlics do not produce this scape and only reproduce through the cloves of the bulb. Soft necked garlics tend to store better and largely for this reason are more often grown commercially.
Garlic is usually planted in the fall about 2-3 weeks before the first ground-freezing frost. It’s important to plant them in time to establish a few roots and start sending up its stem before the ground freezes. During the winter the garlic rests and goes through a period of “vernalization” (cold) which improves the plant’s chance at reproduction, by producing a bulb of numerous cloves instead of a single “round” and production of a scape and umbel, for hard necked garlics. It’s possible to plant garlic in the spring, but then the grower must artificially put the cloves into this state of vernalization by storing them in a cooler at temps less than 40F for approximately 40 days. Even so, garlic planted in the fall will be ready earlier.
We grow exclusively hard necked garlics.
German Extra Hardy or German White (Porcelain type) – These plants produce large garlic bulbs containing 4-6 large cloves in a single layer surrounding a hard stem. Long storing garlic – 7-10 months
Chesnok Red (Purple Stripe type) – These plants produce moderate sized bulbs containing 9-12 cloves in a single layer surrounding a hard stem. The skins have purple stripes. This is one of the best tasting garlics with a milder flavor. Long storing garlic – 7-10 months.
As with all of our crops, our garlic is grown according to the minimum standards set by the USDA’s National Organic Program. One term for this is “Naturally Grown”. So, in the case of garlic, we don’t use any herbicides, insecticides or fungicides. We take care to cultivate garlic in a way that doesn’t require this and we monitor our crop carefully for any evidence of disease.
Garlic harvest happens within a week or two of the 1st of August. At this point we can sell garlic “fresh”, or for the most part, we dry/cure the garlic for 3-4 weeks at which point we cut off the tops, grade it, and it is then ready for storage.
Large bulbs of garlic are sold at a premium since they are most likely to produce large bulbs when used to seed your next garlic crop. Bulbs measuring 2.5 inches are greater are considered seed-quality garlic.
If you’re interested in ordering garlic from us, please complete this short form below and you’ll be notified after garlic harvest and grading. Expect a response by September 1. We will fill orders starting with those who have stated their interest by completing this form.