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Posted: Sunday 24 September, 2006

by Dan at 11:44am in Growing 5 comments Add your own

One of the first bits on content added to our site was my short guide to growing garlic. In my enthusiastic naivety it was intended to be the first of many growing guides, but here we are over 3 years later and it's still a wee orphan. Anyway, I digress. We get a lot of visitors to the site arriving from Google and other search engines searching for information on growing garlic. Originally the guide suggested that buying and planting supermarket garlic was the best way to start, and would give perfectly good results.

But after a couple of years of disappointing crops of small, indeterminate garlic, it finally dawned on me that maybe there was something to recommend the garlic cultivars offered by specialist growers. So last autumn I bought and planted some Solent Wight and Purple Wight bulbs from the Garlic Farm, located on the Isle of Wight. The results have been excellent, and the guide has been updated accordingly - if you're growing garlic buy the best possible stock.

Garlic Lover's box setThis year I've gone a step further and acquired a Garlic Lover's Growing Pack from the aforementioned Garlic Farm. It's advertised as featuring 6 different type of garlic, but ours came with 7 (we might just have been lucky):

  • Solent Wight
  • Early Purple Wight
  • Elephant Garlic
  • Albigensian Wight
  • Iberian Wight
  • Lautrec Wight
  • Heritage Purple Moldovan

The Elephant Garlic will draw the crowds - the individual cloves are the size of the whole heads of garlic you'll buy from the supermarket, and the plants grow to 5 foot tall apparently - but the descriptions of some of the other varieties in the excellent notes which accompanied the box had my mouth watering, especially the Lautrec, reputed to be the ultimate for flavour.

Following the expert advice of Colin Boswell at the Garlic Farm I planted all but the Solent Wight yesterday. The hardest part was keeping track of what I'd planted where with so many types, so I've made good notes for once!

All the garlic laid outThe six varieties of garlic

The Solent Wight will go in the ground in January, but in the meantime we need to convince it that it's still summer. I've also picked up some tips from the notes which should ensure we get the best possible crop - like removing the flowering heads when they appear, which can increase the ultimate size of the bulbs by up to 20%.

At a time of year when we're mostly lifting produce from the vegetable garden and clearing beds it's really nice to be able to plant something that will pay dividends next summer. I'll post from time to time with progress reports, and come next autumn we'll do some taste tests.

Comments

FactoBrunt

Sunday 24 September, 2006 at 6:35pm

Ooh!! We just moved (literally 10 minutes ago) our chickens' run to another part of the garden which left a lovely dark, fertile piece of land which I was wondering what to do with.... I think I've just got my answer, because I absolutely love garlic!

Dan

Monday 25 September, 2006 at 7:13pm

Go for it! We can compare notes. :O)

The smell when we opened the box was wonderful by the way, worth the admission price for that alone.

tutleymutley

Wednesday 4 October, 2006 at 2:46am

I was just going to plant organic supermarket garlic in my brand new raised beds (down where the chickens once roamed) - now I've got to buy this lot... you ought to get a commission!

terri

Dan

Wednesday 4 October, 2006 at 11:16am

LOL, sorry terri. :-O

It is worth it though, you'll thank me one day. And it seems I do get commission of sorts, that Moldovan Purple was slipped into our box just for me. Ta Colin!

M T McGuire

Sunday 6 November, 2011 at 2:29pm

Hello there, sorry, I hope you don't mind me butting in I'm not a smallholder and though I'm quite a keen gardener, my fingers are not so much green as brown. However, after happening on you as I pootled round the net I just wanted to say nice site you have here and t'ing.

It is reassuring to hear you endorse the Isle of Wight garlic people because you clearly have a better idea of what you're doing than I do. I've been looking at their seed stuff this morning and havering a bit because there's a lot of garlic in each pack and it costs quite a lot.

I went there with my Mum in July and we bought some cloves to grow. Mum had two or three heads, I'm not sure what types but soft necked, I think. However, she was ill just after our trip, my brother and his wife went to stay to look after her and they used her seed garlic for cooking.

I suppose this is a lesson that all things should be labelled clearly and seed stock should not be left in the larder, however appropriate the conditions. Then again, it isn't just Mum. After finding McOther about to add it to a bolognese last week I had to write 'seed garlic do not eat me' on mine. Even labelled, I wasn't confident of its chances and yesterday my nerve broke. It's already planted.

Good luck with yours. It will be interesting to see how you get on. Rest assured, you've earned your Moldavian Purple as I will probably will get my Mum an Isle of Wight variety pack like yours now.

Cheers

M T McGuire

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