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Issue No 98
Spring 2004 
page 23

The Garlic Seed Foundation publishes a newsletter covering garlic events, research updates, reviews, and information about the plant. Write to Garlic Seed Foundation, Rose Valley Farm, Rose, NY 14542; (215) 587-9787.

Filaree Farm has years of garlic-growing experience, and sells more than 100 certified organic WSDA varieties. Order an annual catalog by writing Filaree Farm, 182 Conconully Hwy, Okanogan, WA, 98840; (509) 422-6940;

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Whether you’re considering planting rows of giant elephant garlic (which yield 15,000 pounds per acre) or adding a few garlic plants to your flower bed, one thing’s for sure: Garlic is easy to grow. Tolerant of most soils and climates, it rarely succumbs to insects or disease.

Plant your garlic in a sunny location in October (in the North) or from November through January (in the warmer South). Remove any flower stalks in June so that the bulbs receive all the plant’s energy. As the leaves begin to dry, water very little, then dig up the bulbs. Rinse off the soil quickly, cut the roots close to the bulbs, and put the bulbs on flat screening or in baskets in an airy place, out of direct sunlight, to dry. After a day or two (but before the leaves become brittle), you can braid your garlic. Hang in an airy, dry place, always away from sunlight.

Some intriguing varieties to get your started:

  •  Rocambole (Subspecies ophioscorodon) is a broad-leafed garlic that grows three- to four-feet tall and produces coiled stalks with aerial clones. Each bulb has six to 11 large, full-flavored, easily peeled cloves, but their shelf life is more limited than other kinds of garlic.
  •  Purple stripe (Subspecies ophioscorodon), named for its purple-striped bulbs, makes the best choice for baking. With eight to 12 tall, crescent-shaped cloves in each bulb, this type of garlic also produces very attractive coiled stalks and acts as a dual-purpose landscape plant. Visitors to your garden will be shocked when you tell them it's garlic.
  •  Porcelain garlic (Subspecies ophioscorodon) is not very common, but an ever-increasing favorite. Its small number of juicy, tangysweet cloves—four to six large ones per bulb—makes this type easier to work with in the kitchen.
  •  Artichoke garlic (Subspecies sativum) is vigorous and produces nice, large bulbs and cloves that overlap, somewhat resembling the construction of an artichoke— thus the name. A bulb may have as many as 20 mild-flavored cloves. This type of garlic has a long shelf life due to its tight skins, and it’s especially good for eating raw.
  •  Silverskin (Subspecies sativum) garlic is the perfect type to braid, and what's more cheerful than homegrown garlic hanging up in the kitchen, handy for cooking? This type of garlic has an attractive bulb and the longest shelf life. In the garden, it favors mild climates, and seems to shudder when it's cold. Its smooth, symmetrical cloves cover a silver-white skin - a truly great garlic.

Note that garlic will help keep aphids off your roses and reduce blackspot. Simply stick three of four cloves in the soil around each rose, pressing them an inch into the ground, about six inches from the base of the plant. Let them flower or, to promote the growth of the bulbs, and produce a little extra crop, pinch off any flowering heads that come up.

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