by Dan Hysko
It’s almost time (late Sept – late Nov) to get next year’s garlic crop bedded down and covered with sandy soil and mulch. Your reward: curvaceous green scapes next May and robust flavor-packed bulbs in June/July. From Willowood Farm on Whidbey Island we’re selling a selection of premier seeds selected to thrive in our dampish Quimper climate. Plus… we’ll tell you how to grow it.
Garlic is an amazing food, called a super food by some. It is likely antiviral, antifungal, anticancer and some studies have shown it to reduce cholesterol and blood pressure. Most importantly it tastes great. Not all garlics are the same. Garlic is divided into two main categories: Hardnecks and Softnecks.
Willowood Farm is supplying us with varieties of both types. Georgie Smith is the 4th generation farmer on the land. Her great grandfather used to row across to Port Townsend to sell vegetables (they now use the ferry). She has been growing garlic in the sandy loam of Ebbey’s Praire for 10 years without the use of chemical fertilizer or pesticides.
SOFTNECK GARLIC is the type most commonly found in supermarkets. Because the “necks” are soft, they and can be braided. We have:
Inchelium Red – an artichoke variety of garlic, the classic for Italian tomato sauce. It was discovered on Native American reservation north of Spokane in the tiny town of Inchelium. It has, uniformly huge, vigorous bulbs. The flavor is mild raw (many folks who eat raw garlic for health reasons prefer this variety) yet surprisingly good roasted. This one has won taste-tests for “Best Roasted Softneck.”
Nookta Rose – a silverskin variety that originated in the San Juan Islands and is named after our local native rose. White bulbs with the prettiest rose-pink clove wrappers – a very pretty variety for braiding. Good all-purpose for cooking. Roasted it is very sweet and simple – a good “starter garlic” for somebody just venturing into the joys of roasted garlic without overwhelming them.
HARDNECK GARLIC is considered the “connosiours garlic.” It is called “hardneck” garlic because they make an edible seed stalk (scape) that leaves a hard “stem” in the middle of the garlic. Hardnecks cannot be braided but they have a more refined flavor. The hardneck types comprise of the most complex, the most aromatic, the richest and most flavorful. They typically have numerous large cloves that are easy to peel. We have:
Georgian Fire – a porcelain type garlic that is an amazing roasting garlic. Spreads like butter and has the best “garlicky” flavor roasted. It tastes best when kept in large chunks. Big bulbs, vigorous grower. Mid season maturity. Hot raw.
Vostani – a very rare variety from immigrants to British Columbia. An early Porcelain with short, stout plants. Mild and creamy baked.
Asian Tempest – an Asiatic variety from South Korea with a big bulb and cloves. It has attractive purple striping, is very hot raw and spicy baked.
Chesnok Red – a purple stripe variety from The Republic of Georgia. It is an excellent all-purpose garlic with a crisp, clean flavor. Reliably vigorous, late maturing, decent storage.
Click here for Georgie’s clear instructions on how to plant, care for, and harvest your garlic. By next fall, this will all be old-hat and you’ll be saving your biggest and best heads to break apart and resow into the ground. And on it goes – a lifetime of garlicky sauces and perfect health!
You can buy your garlic seed either by coming into Chimacum Corner Farmstand or by special ordering online through our “All-One-Family Fresh Food Delivery” store. Supplies are limited and most likely we will sell out, so it’s best to order early.