Garlic and Garlic Scape Recipes “Tomatoes and oregano make it Italian; Wine and tarragon make it French. Sour cream makes it Russian; Lemon and cinnamon make it Greek. Soy sauce makes it Chinese; Garlic makes it good.” ~Alice May Brock Available in June, garlic scapes […]
Why Can’t You Purchase Garlic Early Each Year? When can you purchase garlic? You may wonder why garlic is not offered for sale earlier in the year. Having an accurate inventory of garlic before harvest, curing and drying time, cutting from stalks, and weighing is […]
In a nutshell: Food garlic is generally the comprised of the prettier, smaller bulbs of the season. Seed garlic is typically the largest of the harvest’s bulbs.
Garlic meant for seed is often left to grow for a couple more weeks than garlic that will be sold as food. The purpose of this extra time is to allow for as much growth of the cloves as possible, as larger seeds (cloves) can produce larger bulbs in the next harvest.
While the variety remains unchanged by this extra maturation time in terms of flavor or genetics, the resulting bulbs are often larger and may have a “less pretty” appearance. The two most common effects in addition to clove size are discoloration of the wrapper around the bulb, and the loss of some of the wrapper layers. Also, larger bulbs often don’t last as long in the cupboard and smaller bulbs do.
NOTE: Some years, the wrappers are not affected or are minimally affected.
But in some years, the wrappers may have a less-bright-white color, and some cloves may burst through the wrappers. In particular, artichoke softnecks are more susceptible. Some hardnecks may lose wrappers and become less white as well.
This later harvest is not detrimental to the garlic as seed, and in fact, the larger seed is desirable for planting!
Some growers may choose to bleach or use other detergents to wash their wrappers so the bulb wrappers appear brighter white. We do not attempt to alter color with chemicals.
A comparison of bulb wrapper colors, using German Red as an example.
On the left is one pound of German Red, smaller-sized food-quality bulbs with white wrappers.
On the right is one pound of German Red, showing a less white wrapper color and larger size.
Examples of softnecks in a cold and wet year, which have stained wrappers and blown wrappers.
Not all years’ weather/growing conditions result in this much change, but these pictures from an extremely-wet year show it clearly.
This is not a problem for seed garlic, but definitely is an example of how seed garlic “can” be less pretty than the food bulbs.
Can Seed Garlic Be Eaten?
Yes. We obviously eat the garlic we raise. The garlic’s flavor characteristics are not changed by a longer growth period before harvest. Generally, the only difference between seed garlic and food garlic is, at times, a change in wrapper color and the loss of some wrapping. However, bulbs without wrappers probably won’t store as long in the cabinet. Therefore, the advantage of harvesting late is seed and bulb growth, but not storage length.
Because we have access to fresh garlic and its superior flavor, we have increased our garlic use exponentially in recent years! We think this happens with our customers as well. The real garlic flavor of fresh, home-grown garlic is so much better than what comes from store-bought […]
How To Grow Garlic
Adapted from the Iowa State University Horticulture Guide: http://www.extension.iastate.edu/Publications/PM1894.pdf
How to Grow Garlic Using Sustainable Farming Practices:
Garlic (Allium sativum) is a member of the onion family (Alliaceae) along with onions, chives, shallots, leeks, and elephant garlic. Garlic is distinguished from other family members by its flat leaves and clove-like bulbs. Each garlic bulb contains several small scales or cloves enclosed in a white or purplish parchment-like sheath.
Garlic cultivars are classified as either hardneck or softneck.
Hardneck cultivars (Allium sativum var. ophioscorodon) produce a flower stalk (technically a scape) and are often termed “top-setting” or “bolting” cultivars. Flowers, if they are produced, usually abort. Bulbils (small bulblets) are produced on top of the scape. The flower stalks of some hardneck garlic are distinctly coiled. These types are referred to as rocambole or serpent garlic. Typically, hardneck garlic cultivars have 4 to 12 cloves surrounding the flower stalk. Because of the hard flower stalk, they are difficult to braid. Garlic Scapes are completely edible and considered a delicacy. Watch our recipes page for delicious ways to prepare garlic scapes.
Softneck cultivars (Allium sativum var. sativum) are sometimes referred to as “artichoke” cultivars and do not produce a seed stalk. These cultivars are commonly used in California for commercial production. However, some softneck cultivars are suitable for cold climates. Softneck cultivars are generally more productive than hardnecks because all the energy goes to producing a bulb rather than a bulb and flower stalk. Bulbs have 10 to 40 cloves arranged in layers. Softneck garlic tends to have a much longer shelf life than hardneck garlic and typically can be stored for 6 to 8 months without significant deterioration. They also are easy to braid.
Elephant, porcelain, or Greathead garlic is actually a type of leek (Allium ampeloprasum). Elephant garlic is much larger than true garlic, often weighing as much as 1 pound per bulb. They also store well. The taste of elephant garlic is much milder than that of true garlic, but in cold climates, it can develop a sharp or bitter taste.
Preparation of the Garlic Bulbs/Cloves
Open your garlic box the same day it is received! This will help prevent mold/mildew/rot, as it will allow the garlic to continue drying. Place the garlic in a cool location away from sunlight as you wait for the proper planting time.
Up to 2 days prior to planting (but not longer), “shuck” the garlic. Remove the outer husks and separate the cloves, leaving the skins on the individual cloves. Store the cloves in a cool location away from sunlight.
One helpful step to help avoid disease is to shuck your garlic away from your field/garden, so the dirt particles and shucks can not contaminate your soil. This may be an unnecessary precaution, but it’s an easy one to do. Therefore, we recommend shucking garlic away from your field/garden.
Dipping/soaking cloves: more to come here in the near future…
Planting Garlic: Garlic grows best in well-drained, fertile soils that are high in organic matter. Misshapen bulbs may result when garlic is grown in heavy, clay soils. Incorporating compost or well-rotted manure into heavy, clay soils can be beneficial. The optimum soil pH for garlic is between 6 and 7. Before planting, soils should be well tilled to provide a loose growing bed for bulb development. Because garlic plants do not produce true seeds, garlic is grown by planting cloves. Garlic cloves can be purchased at garden centers or from mail-order companies, through direct purchase online from growers is typically more economical.
Planting cloves from garlic purchased at the grocery store is not recommended because these are usually softneck cultivars that are mainly adapted to mild climates. Additionally, most grocery store garlic has been exposed to chemicals that postpone or prevent growth for longer shelf life.
Cloves should be planted in fall in most of the US (October to early November) or early spring (late March to early April). Spring-planted garlic will not likely achieve the same size as fall-planted garlic. Contact your local Extension Office or state Extension for information about planting times specific to your area.
Fall-planted garlic should be mulched with a 4- to 6-inch layer of weed-seed-free straw to help prevent winter injury. In early spring, move the straw to between the rows to allow the garlic foliage to emerge and moisture to evaporate from the soil. The mulch helps control weeds during the growing season.
Late spring planting results in smaller bulbs at harvest.
Plant cloves with the pointed side up, root end down. When planted upside down, misshapen bulbs often develop. Plant cloves about 1 inch deep, or contact your Extension Office for recommended depth for your climate/zone.
Hardneck (top-setting) garlic cultivars also may also be grown from the bulbils or bulblets. Plant the bulblets in early spring and allow to grow in the same area for 18 months. By the end of the first season, the bulblets will form “rounds” or unsegmented bulbs. Left undisturbed, they will form a cluster of cloves by the following summer.
Place cloves 3 to 5 inches apart within the row. Rows should be spaced 18 to 24 inches apart.
We suggest that you contact your local agricultural extension office for recommendations specific to your growing area. A list of offices, by county, can be found here: http://www.clemson.edu/extension/county/ .
Garlic requires more fertilizer than many vegetables. Incorporate 1 to 2 pounds of an all-purpose garden fertilizer (10-10-10) per 100 square feet before planting. One month after planting apply an additional pound per 100 foot of row in a band 3 to 4 inches from the base of the plants. Avoid nitrogen applications after the first week of May because bulbing may be delayed. Soil tests should be taken before planting to determine phosphorus and potassium needs.
If you prefer to garden naturally, try fertilizing with blood meal, bone meal, and/or fish meal.
Water plants once per week during dry weather. Stop irrigating in late June to allow the foliage to yellow and die before harvest. Like an onion, garlic has a shallow root system. Weeds should be removed carefully to avoid disturbing or pulling up the garlic bulbs with the weeds. Mulches help control weeds and conserve soil moisture.
Most garlic diseases are either soil- or set-borne and usually can be controlled with proper rotation and planting disease-free sets. Before planting, check each clove for signs of disease. Discard any infected cloves or bruised cloves because they may decay in the soil. Many garlic cultivars are susceptible to yellow tips.
The development of yellow tips early in the season (before bulbing) may drastically reduce yields. It is usually a sign of water stress, nutrient deficiency, or disease. Insects are not a major problem for garlic production, though a few destructive pests do exist.
Harvest and Storage
When is it best to harvest garlic? In late spring/early summer, the garlic begins to change from a green onion-looking plant to forming bulbs. The greatest part of the size develops in the last month before harvest.
Spring garlic looks similar to green onions. It has not yet begun to form cloves in mid/late April in Iowa. Spring garlic can be eaten, but of course, won’t allow you to produce as large of a quantity as if it matures before harvest. Still, it is another unique way to enjoy your garlic!
Carefully dig garlic bulbs when the foliage starts to turn yellow and die, most often when half of the leaves are dying. Yellowing normally occurs between June and September (varying by climate/zone). Dry or cure the bulbs in a warm, well-ventilated, and shaded location for at least 2 to 3 weeks.
After drying, remove the foliage 1 inch above the bulbs or use the foliage to braid the bulbs together. Place the bulbs in a mesh bag or open crate and store where it is cool (32–40°F) and dry (65–70% relative humidity). Softneck types can be stored for 6 months or more, whereas hardneck types may only store for approximately 3-5 months. More about how to store garlic here.
For more information
If you have any questions, feel free to contact us!
Additional information also is available from these Web sites, and also your state’s Extension web site:
ISU Extension Publications http://www.extension.iastate.edu/pubs
ISU Horticulture http://www.hort.iastate.edu
Choosing Your Garlic Favorites How do you choose which varieties of garlic to purchase? There are so many options…it can be a hard decision. Maybe this little tool will help you pick and place your order. All garlic seed for sale is supplied by our small micro-farm […]
Which Size Should You Buy? Garlic varieties can vary quite a bit in size. For example, Elephant Garlic bulbs can reach sizes between baseball and softball dimensions in your garden. See individual descriptions on our Garlic Varieties page for more about how the varieties differ in size. […]
History of Garlic:
|Garlic has been used in food and medicine for thousands of years. Archaeologists discovered clay sculptures in the shape of garlic bulbs in an Egyptian tomb dating back to 3200 BC. An Egyptian papyrus that dates back to 1500 BC recommends garlic in treating 22 ailments to include heart disease, stamina, and tumors. Greek military leaders fed garlic to their troops before combat, Greek athletes took garlic to increase performance, ancient Transylvanians used garlic as a mosquito repellent, and King Tutankhamen was sent into the afterlife with garlic. Garlic was used to battle the plague and during World War, I and World War II, when penicillin was scarce, used to prevent infection and gangrene in soldier’s wounds. In seventeenth-century England, garlic was considered unfit for ladies or the gentleman who wished to court them. Western cultures shunned garlic until the early to mid-20th century because of the unpleasant smell it left behind. It wasn’t until the 1920’s that Americans began to embrace this flavorful and healthy bulb.|
Today, Americans consume 250 million pounds of garlic annually. Garlic production in the U.S. has decreased steadily in the past decade while imports from China are on the rise. In 2007, the U.S. produced approximately 95 million pounds of garlic and imported approximately 160 million pounds from China. Small farms, like ours, are striving to change those statistics.
Health Benefits of Garlic:
This is not a medical site.
It is essential that you discuss medical matters with your doctor.
Eating garlic not only enhances the flavor of your food, there are numerous health benefits to be gained as well.
In 1858, Louis Pasteur observed garlic’s antibacterial activity, and it was used as an antiseptic to prevent gangrene during World War I and World War II.
Crushed garlic has been shown to kill 23 types of bacteria including listeria, E.coli, Cryptococcus meningitis, Candida Albicans, salmonella, and Staphylococcus. Heated garlic has been shown to lower serum cholesterol by preventing clotting in the arteries.
Clinical trials, which were published in the Journal of Hypertension, showed that the blood pressure of volunteers was reduced 1 – 5% after taking garlic supplements. This may not sound a lot but this small reduction can reduce the chance of a stroke by 30-40% and heart disease by 20-25%.
Vitamins in garlic, such as A, B, and C, stimulate the body to fight carcinogens and get rid of toxins, and may even aid in preventing certain types of cancer, such as stomach cancer. Garlic’s sulfur compounds can regulate blood sugar metabolism, stimulate and detoxify the liver, and stimulate the blood circulation and the nervous system.
- Garlic is most effective when crushed or chopped and when raw.
- One clove a day can improve your health and 2-3 cloves can help prevent a cold.
- When cooking garlic wait until the last 10 minutes of cooking to add the garlic.
- Be careful about taking too much garlic as it can irritate your digestive system.
- Don’t microwave garlic as this kills the active ingredients.
- Don’t take garlic instead of a healthy balanced diet.
- Garlic supplements may interact with certain drugs such as anticoagulants.
- Always consult a doctor if you are unsure about anything.
The Medicinal Use of Garlic in History, http://www.amazingherbs.com/meduseofgari.html, April 30, 2009
The Health Benefits of Garlic, http://www.elements4health.com/garlic.html, April 30, 2009
Garlic, http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/garlic-000245.htm, April 30, 2009
The Wonders of Garlic, http://www.thenutritionreporter.com/garlic.html, 1996
Chemists Shed Light On Health Benefits Of Garlic, http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/01/090130154901.htm, January 31, 2009
Garlic Health Benefits, http://www.garlic-central.com/garlic-health.html, April 30, 2009
What are the Health Benefits of Garlic, http://naturalhealthremedies.org/what-are-the-health-benefits-of-garlic/, May 12, 2007
Ancient Egyptian Medicine, http://www.reshafim.org.il/ad/egypt/timelines/topics/medicine.htm, April 30, 2009
USDA Food Availability, http://www.ers.usda.gov/data/foodconsumption/, 2007 statistics
Ancient Egyptian Medicine – Smith Papyrus – Ebers Papyrus, http://www.scribd.com/doc/5060139/Ancient-Egyptian-Medicine-Smith-Papyrus-Ebers-Papyrus, April 30, 2009
Garlic, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garlic, April 30, 2009
Garlic, http://home.howstuffworks.com/garlic3.htm, April 30, 2009