The garlic went in my raised beds with a 6 inch depth, which is plenty for growing garlic. For most of the varieties I used a four per square (foot) spacing, which means they are spaced 6 inches (15 cm.) apart each direction. The Chesnok Red has become a much smaller garlic so I used 5 per square for that garlic. For the five varieties, I planted a total of 19 squares which yields over 89 bulbs. That is more than I can consume/preserve before they go bad, so I try to give some away, particularly to gardeners who may want to try growing garlic. We’re visiting my daughter in two weeks and a bag of garlic is going to be one of the gifts I bring. I hope she is thrilled. Maybe we will make Freddy’s Roast Potatoes.
German Red is a large Rocambole garlic that averages 4-5 cloves per head and is very cold tolerant. I purchased my seed stock last September at the MDI Garlic Festival. It was grown by Goosefoote Farm in Vermont. The harvest this year was very good, with very large heads. Largest was 4 oz. with 4 cloves or an ounce (28 g.) per clove. Goosefoote was at the fair again this year and at least from an eye test, their garlic was much smaller than the year before. Just part of the variability in growing garlic.
German Extra Hardy is another large (3-4 large cloves per head), cold tolerant garlic. It is considered a Porcelain with a white skin but with purplish cloves. Being a Porcelain it is supposed to store well for a hardneck, but I have had the opposite experience. The cloves soften and turn brown on me long before the other varieties. I set aside my seed stock in August when I cleaned up the dried plants. By planting time this year, some of the cloves had already shriveled. I learned my lesson last year and brought along a couple spare bulbs, which I needed to get enough healthy cloves to plant my four squares. I am thinking I probably should purchase some new seed stock to replace my own.
Duganski (originally from Kazakhstan) was new last year, from seed stock purchased from Territorial. It did very well for me this year and produced some beautiful bulbs. It is considered a Purple Stripe and you can see the beautiful purple cloves inside the white skin of the head. My heads and the seed stock I bought last year has a white outer wrapper, not the purple striped skins shown in catalogs. The cloves are long and slender and taper to a very sharp tip, which makes it harder for dunces like me to plant the basal end up. And it is supposed to last a long time in storage, which is a plus. We will see.
OK, I was going to replace the Chesnok Red with the Phillips seed stock I bought, but a funny thing happened on the way to the garden. I can not find the Spanish Roja garlic. No idea where I put it. This year I left it in the garden too long and did a poor job of drying it, so maybe I tossed it all in the compost in a fit of disgust. So Chesnok Red gets a reprieve, which is alright since it is a great garlic. Since the cloves are so small, these were planted 5 per square, but only 3 squares were planted. Chesnok Red is another Purple Stripe from the Republic of Georgia and you can see the beautiful color. It is also supposed to be one of the best cooking garlics and also stores well.
The reason I was going to pass over planting Chesnok Red this year was the fact that the heads seem to be getting smaller each year, rather than larger. The theory is that you select the largest and finest heads each year for your seed garlic. You are practicing selection and eventually your garlic is optimally adapted to your soil and climate and will produce humongous, astounding results. It has not quite worked out that way. The Chesnok Red is smaller, the German Extra Hardy does not keep well, the Spanish Roja is not as large. Apparently I am not alone.
While searching for descriptions of my garlic among web sites of various seed garlic growers, I encountered, one after another, descriptions by small growers describing puzzling changes in the character of their garlic. The big suppliers will have their usual boilerplate descriptions, but many of the smaller growers like to describe what happened on the farm this year and supply a personalized description of their garlic. Many are reporting that their garlic stock is changing. Color, size, clove count, whatever. It struck me because I have never seen that pointed out by growers but have noticed it in my own garlic.
So the garlic is safely in the ground. Just a little more clean up and then I can concentrate on the seed catalogs that are starting to arrive! We’re on to 2016.