Years ago I bought a cook book titled “Glorious Garlic” and it has some terrific recipes. Little did I know when I bought it that Mike and I some day would seriously grow garlic. Mike refers to us as “Garlicteers.” Not only do we love to eat garlic (Mike makes delicious garlic mashed potatoes), but we also enjoy growing garlic in addition to our roses.
It all started a few years ago when we planted a few cloves of garlic around our roses because we wanted to determine if garlic is really a deterrent against black spot. Since we planted it among our sustainable roses which don’t get black spot, we couldn’t tell if it helped or not. But it didn’t hurt and provided us with some delicious fresh garlic that summer.
Last October we got serious about planting garlic. Mike prepared a garlic bed, amending the soil, and we mail ordered Hardneck garlic, better for the cold New England climate than Softneck Garlic, from Green Mountain Garlic in Vermont.
According to Green Mountain Garlic, there are 3 types of Hardnecks: Racamboles, Porcelain and Purple Stripe. When we ordered our garlic the end of July 2014, we were a little late and the only garlic available was the Porcelains. We ordered ½ pound each of 2 varieties: Music and Romanian Red, which gave us 3 bulbs of each variety, about 13 -15 cloves of each bulb. Along with our harvest from the previous year of 2 unknown garlic varieties that we were given by friends from the Connecticut Rose Society, we had about 50 cloves to plant.
Garlic is easy to grow and once it was planted at the end of October 2014, we had nothing left to do but wait. By the end of March 2015, after most of the snow had finally melted, we saw the garlic pushing up through the still-hard soil. In early June the curly garlic scapes appeared and we followed Green Mountain’s instructions and clipped them off and used them like chives. Quite tasty. By the first week in July, just as predicted, the garlic leaves turned yellow, a sign that they were ready to harvest. We dug up a few heads to see if they were ready to go then decided to wait 1 more week before we harvested them all in the middle of July.
Mike bundled them up by variety and hung them on our patio under the awning – the only place we had that was warm, dry, out of the sun with good air circulation. We let them cure for 4 weeks until the clove wrappers were dry, then we trimmed the stems and the roots, cleaned them off and stored them in mesh bags.
The difference between fresh and store-bought garlic is amazing. I could tell that as soon as I chopped up my first Romanian Red which just oozed out pungent garlic oil. I added chopped garlic to our home-grown green beans and the garlic flavor was just amazing. We tried Music next and found it was a bit milder. What I liked about both, besides their freshness and intense flavor, was the ease in peeling, unlike some of the garlic I bought at the market.
Our yield was almost 100%. We lost 1 clove to a curious squirrel who had dug it up and discarded it on the grass when she decided it wasn’t an acorn. Mike plans on expanding our garlic patch and I’ve already ordered a 3rd variety from Green Mountain Garlic called Spanish Red, a Racombole variety that is described as having a rich, robust flavor. I can’t wait to try it!
Garlic and roses, great companion plants!