It’s just about that time again… Late Sept – late Nov is the time 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. For an exhaustive analysis of all garlic’s claims, click here! 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.”
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.
Japanese – A very rare garlic, collected from an elderly Japanese gardener in the Pacific Northwest. Distinctive creamy white wrapped bulbs with the biggest individual cloves of any garlic we grow. Often only 3 per bulb. Like most asiatic types, it is VERY hot raw. However baked or roasted it has a wonderfully sweet flavor and creamy texture.
Purple Glazer – You won’t believe your eyes when you see the satiny clove wrappers of Purple Glazer. A vivid, royal purple tinged with shiny gold and/or silver hues makes this one of the most attractive garlics. As a sub-variety of Purple Stripe, a group known for being the “best baked garlic”, Purple Glazer has a strong lasting flavor, but not hot and no aftertaste. Very easy to peel.
Music – Music hits the top of the charts when it comes to yields. In trials at Michigan State University, Music out-produced all others with a harvest of over 13,500 pounds per acre! White skinned with just a blush of pink, this garlic makes big cloves that are easy-to-peel. The taste is a medium hot, true garlic flavor that lasts for a long time. Music will store 9 months to a year. Very cold tolerant.
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!