November 2008


I’ve spent way too much time creating a preliminary layout for next year’s garden.  Using spacing suggestions (more or less) from the SFG book, I’ve decided on what to plant.  Some will be started inside under grow lights, which will be set up this winter, and some will be direct sown.  Everybody take a look….

2008-garden-layout

Hopefully it’s large enough to make out. Click on the image to enlarge.

Suggestions?  Am I putting things together that shouldn’t be together?  Note that some of these will be succession plantings, so they won’t all be ready for harvest at the same time.  The beans, lettuce, broccoli, and cauliflower in particular.  So not all the squares will be filled right away.

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I realized that I didn’t say what kinds of garlic I planted, so in case anyone is wondering (and because I will eventually forget), here we go.

Since I have only knowingly ever eaten store bought garlic, I wanted to make sure and try a variety of types if I was going to grow it myself.  Because there are differences in suitable growing conditions as well as flavor, there are some that will undoubtedly be better than others.  Next year, after we’ve harvested and tried the different kinds we can decide what we like best and use cloves from the harvest to plant in the next growing season.  I placed orders from two different organic/organic option farms.

First, I ordered a Small (1/2 LB) Starter Pack from Filaree Farm in Okanogan, WA.  They describe themselves below:

Located in north central Washington State where we’ve been farming organically since 1977. Filaree offers over 100 unique strains of seed garlic which we have collected from sources all over the world. We cater to small organic gardeners, plant nurseries and commercial farmers as well.

I received 3 heads each of Kilarney Red, a Rocambole variety, and Inchelium Red, an Artichoke variety.

Rocambole: These are the most widely known, hence most widely grown of the hardneck or ophio garlics. They have a deeper, more full-bodied flavor than softnecks. Rocamboles produce large cloves which are easily peeled, making them preferred by chefs & food processors. Their loose skins, however, give rise to their major disadvantage, a shorter storage life than most other varieties.

Artichoke: Artichoke strains are very vigorous and large bulbed. Plants are shorter than hardneck varieties with more spreading rather than upright leaves. The leaves are broader than any other variety and a deeper green than most.

I ordered two additional varieties from Fedco Seeds, a co-op garden in Waterville, ME.  I received 3 heads each of German Extra Hardy and Music, which are both of the Porcelain Variety.

Porcelain: Porcelains are still relatively rare in North America, but are becoming much sought after as gardeners and garlic connoisseurs learn of their unique properties. Most Porcelains display satiny white bulb wrappers with only 4 to 6 symmetrical cloves per bulb. Their cloves are often as large as unshelled Brazil nuts and are frequently mistaken for Elephant Garlic.

They aren’t exaggerating with the size of the cloves.  The Music garlic had maybe 4-5 cloves on each head but they were gigantic.  A couple of them were close to the size of an entire head of store bought garlic.

Here’s a picture of someone else’s German Extra Hardy haul this season…..imagine if I get 40 bulbs like this???

garlic_closeup

I planted 10 cloves of each in a 4X4 bed.  Hopefully I’ll get a decent percentage of each kind to grow to maturity.  The next step is to learn how to preserve them for storage.  I have a good 7 or 8 months before I have to worry about that though!


I have been very curious to know if my garlic is doing anything underneath all the mulch I laid down, so I did a little hand digging last night to look at a clove.  I’m pleased to report that it had grown roots!  I’m concerned about the bulbs rotting out because we have had hardly any warming sun since I planted them.  At least they seem to be starting off on the right foot.