Lovely, Mike. When I was in Gilroy, the town actually had the smell of garlic in the air. I was told by a local it was the nearby fields and processing plant. Certainly there must be some heirloom cultivars around your neck of the woods.
thank you Sunbelle! For sure, Gilroy ranks of Garlic! They grow mostly california early and probably california late, as both of those varieties can be machine planted.
Locally, the best variety I've been able to find is Spanish Roja, which reportedly originated in Oregon. It was grown by a local farmer in Pescadero, CA. challenge is, there were many bulbs that had disease, so I had to go through each clove, peel them, cook the ones with discoloration on them, and surface sterilize the "clean" ones for planting.
Anyways, Spanish Roja is described as being the variety that has "true garlic flavor" although you'd think all garlic has true garlic flavor? Chefs supposedly go after this variety. I dunno...it also supposedly has a poor shelf life, so it's the one you'll want to eat first.
Spanish Roja was the first variety to mature (I think the Xian I harvested in the previous post was a little bit early, I'm keeping those in the ground for a week or so more). Pictured below is the biggest, fattest garlic I've ever grown in my life, although there's still more to harvest, so it's hard to say if this is the actual biggest of the 2019 crop.
Hard to tell scale from the pics, but this garlic bulb is massive, photos taken 5/20/19. I'm also still trying to figure out when optimal maturity is for each variety, I don't think there's a universal method that accurately describes peak harvest for all varieties:
Last Edit: May 21, 2019 13:29:32 GMT -5 by meizzwang
So what varieties are you able to grow in your climate? Interestingly, it seems the varieties that are suggested for warmer regions do better in Northern CAlifornia since we don't have very cold winters. The porcelain varieties give me a lot of trouble, you can plant very large cloves and still end up with tiny bulbs. Purple stripe is somewhere in between in terms of performance. The varieties that finish the earliest tend to do the best here, whereas the ones that require a long grow season do poorly in general. Well, we'll see in the future if that holds true, I only really figured out how to grow garlic this season after my friend taught me some tricks (outlined in this thread).
Early Portuguese harvest. Really great variety for the Bay Area, Northern California. The 2 bulbs used to plant what you see below were much smaller than the garlic just harvested! Photos taken 5/29/19:
I feel pretty ghetto having that pot in the picture. Nevertheless, look at how green the tops are at harvest: I used to let the tops turn mostly brown before harvesting, but that probably is the reason why the bulbs rotted before I could even have a chance to plant them the following season! Harvesting them at the stage you see below ensures the bulbs will have sufficient wrappers (not gangsta rappers though) surrounding the cloves, which keeps pathogens from having a chance to spoil the bulbs while in storage. when you wait for all the leaves to yellow before harvesting, the wrappers crumble off after drying and the cloves become exposed, shortening the shelf life and making the cloves less likely to be pathogen free for next year's planting:
Last Edit: May 30, 2019 15:32:48 GMT -5 by meizzwang
Mike, this is getting kinda freaky; I've grown a ton of garlic over the years, but decided to stop for awhile because onion maggots started to be an issue. I know of no (chemical/organic) control for this pest. Maybe next year, I'll use conduit hoops and netting to protect the Alliums, like garlic, leeks, Ishikura and Red Beard Onions. If the flies can't lay eggs on the foliage, the larvae can't migrate down and bore in. First, it was just onions and leeks. Then, the buggers started infesting garlic. You'd harvest what looked like a fine crop, only to have it implode a few weeks later.
Here, garlic is best planted Sept.-Oct. Many varieties can take serious cold, without mulch: Giant Chinese, Polish/Italian White, Music, Duganski and most of the hard neck types. At planting, a higher phosphorous ratio fertilizer is mixed into the first four inches of soil The colloids here bind phosphorous, so it's best to get it near the roots.
More Nitrogen fertilizers are applied early spring, "side-dressed" as new growth emerges. Scapes are snapped off and eaten (Rocambole types) and watering is greatly reduced starting in May. Once a couple bottom leaves start to yellow, watering is withheld. This is where conduit hoops would be good, not only for netting, but to keep spring rains from ruining the harvest. As our climate has changed for the past two years, rain has become a problem.
At least Garlic chives don't attract onion maggot/flies. The unopened flower stalks are delicious; can't make "Stir Fry Fly Head" without it. Blanched/yellow, noodle-like foliage is tasty, as well.
You need another plant project, meizz; howzabout Potato/Multiplier onions? Or, are you already growing them!
By the way, I'm a member of the Seed Savers Exchange and there is a membership fee.
Southern Exposure Seed Exchange has a great posting on growing garlic in the mid-Atlantic region, but methods are adaptable. They also sell a good variety; so does Territorial Seed Co.
Thas some fine looking garlic you pulled, my friend! Amongst the best I've seen. I'll buy some from you if you have a surplus!
I just tried a preservation method: Peel, halve and sautee, at low heat, garlic cloves. I barely submerged them in peanut oil (not olive oil, since I cook mostly Asian-style). After a gentle simmer, the cloves are put in jars to freeze, barely covering with the cook oil. That keeps air out, the enzymes of raw garlic are denatured, and it's super easy to scoop out what you need, since the oil stays soft. When the little shoots start to form after long-term storage, it's said these can become bitter and are best removed after halving the cloves.
After using a friend's Rosle garlic press, we has to get one. It's the Cadillac of presses and, so far, the only one we haven't worn out/broken. Yeah, it's $40+, but you can put a lot of garlic through it quickly. Incidentally, if you press garlic, press it into lightly simmering oil right away-it changes flavor quickly if not heated/denatured.
Thanks for the kind words bogman! More pics to come.
I'm not sure if the varieties that thrive here will do well for you, but you never know until you try them out. I tried music in the past and it did horribly here, but my friend grew it in Mendocino, CA by the coast and it did very well for him.
Here's the preliminary results of the varieties I grew this year: 1) Asian tempest-planted large cloves, late to emerge, harvested bulbs just slightly larger than the cloves planted. Definitely not growing this variety again, doesn't do well in my climate. 2) Georgia fire-medium large plants, haven't harvested them yet, so no idea on the size of the bulbs. Doesn't seem to thrive in my climate, but did probably better than normal because we had a cold spring. 3)Persian Star-medium sized plants, haven't harvested them yet. 4) burgundy-large plants, medium sized bulbs. This one is decent in our climate, but not the best. 5) Spanish roja-large plants, XL bulbs. Definitely growing this again, although the flavor is very mild. 6) early portuguese: medium large plants, consistently large bulbs, definitely growing this again. Flavor is sweet, complex, and not too strong, my family loves the flavor of this one. 7) Xian-only had 5 plants, all of which were large, and large bulbs. Flavor is mild, but that was on uncured bulbs, haven't tasted them when properly dried. will grow again for sure.
Contact me around September of this year, I expect to have some galic seed bulbs available! I cook a lot of garlic, but a good amount will be saved for planting.
1) Spanish Roja-earliest variety to harvest. Definitely well adapted to the Bay Area, CA (zone 9) climate. Produced the largest bulbs of all varieties, very easy to peel:
The cloves are really beautiful too, check out how purple they are! The color of the cloves may vary depending on the environment....when I got this variety last fall, I don't remember them having purple cloves, and they were with 100% certainty not mixed up:
Been munchin these, very easy to peel:
Here's Burgundy, a creole type. I harvested a little one maybe 1 week too early, and the cloves weren't purple, but I haven't opened up anymore since. Harvested about 4 days ago, haven't eaten any of these yet, waiting to cure them properly before taste testing. Bulbs are average sized, a few decent sized ones came through for replanting. not the best adapted variety for northern California, but they did decent, so I'll probably keep them going this fall. I remember the bulbs I received weren't that big, but now I have some decent sized bulbs to start the next generation, so we'll see:
Xian, a turban variety. Thrived in our climate. Very easy to peel. Only had 5 plants, and there were 2 large ones and the rest were this size. Haven't tasted this one after a full cure, might not get a chance to this year since I only have 4 bulbs left. Harvested early, around late May! Definitely growing this one again:
Early Portuguese, turban type. 100% loves our climate here! Bulbs that were harvested were much bigger than the bulbs used at planting. this is a winner with my family: sweet, complex flavor without the gut-churning heat. don't get me wrong, I like that stuff too cuz I'm part russian, but the Chinese portion of my family likes the sweet, mild stuff. consistently huge bulbs, and lots of cloves. easy to peel. early harvest, around late may for us. Beautiful, distinctive purple bulbs, will definitely grow a lot of these this fall:
Georgian fire, a porcelain type. Still curing, haven't tried it yet. Definitely not well adapted to our climate, but because we had an unseasonably cold spring, I did get some decent sized bulbs. Probably thrives in zones 8 and a few below, this was late to emerge after planting. haven't tasted this one yet. Definitely want to grow this again to see how they do year after year in our climate:
Last Edit: Jun 13, 2019 15:33:53 GMT -5 by meizzwang
Gor-jus, meiz, jus gor jus! It could be that the varieties which under perform need a colder winter, so they don't metabolize while dormant. Who knows? Good you're keeping track of what does well, and those look huge.
I'm with you on not craving the hot element, in any Allium really. My wife and I don't eat raw, hot onions or garlic; stomach does not approve! If we want "heat", we use Capsicums, horseradish, black pepper, or wasabi. Fortunately, even the hottest garlic or onions tame down with careful sautéing. Are you taste-testing raw garlic?
I bet Leeks do well in your climate, one of my favorite Alliums.
I think you're right, the colder winter is probably key to getting some of these varieties to do well here. If they emerged earlier after planting, they'd have a much longer grow season. the early to finish varieties, from my experience, are the earliest to emerge after planting.
It's probably dangerous to eat too much raw garlic, did that many years back and it burns!
the next generation. I kinda screwed up by adding too much sulfur to the beds, caused the plants to show nitrogen deficiency (not shown). I think the rain took care of it and they're back in business, but lesson learned.
Most of the bed that is thriving in the picture below is early portuguese, grew a ton of it because this cultivar is perfect for our Northern california climate.
Pics taken 12/11/20, they're much bigger now, gonna take new pics soon:
The bed in the background looks dismal, there's some new varieties that I'm trialing in it that look decent now. Interestingly, one thing I learned this year is don't mix bulbs of the same variety with each other. I had two bulbs of spanish roja planted in that back bed, and the plants are all runts/unhealthy. The first leaves that emerged were yellowish, but then the new growth afterwards looked totally normal. Roots looked great on some and sorta jacked on others, maybe there's some rot going on there, haven't figured it out. Each clove was inspected before planting and they looked great at the time. In a lower bed (not shown) 4 other spanish roja bulbs were planted, and they're all thriving! Had I mixed all 6 bulbs together before planting, some sickly plants would have mixed with the healthy ones.
Last Edit: Feb 6, 2020 23:25:27 GMT -5 by meizzwang
Hey Mike, this thread inspired me to try planting some garlic back in November. Growing garlic here isn’t super hard, but it ain’t a walk in the park, either. In fact, the garlic farm I got my seed from doesn’t recommend their products for people living south of 32°N latitude — I’m just a skotch north of 30°. In addition to mild winters, we have the issue of warming up fast in the spring — great for sarrs, not so good for garlic. Every time I’ve tried garlic in the past, it’s been sort of half-hearted attempts in pots and I never got bulbs bigger than a quarter. Now that I know more about it, it’s probably because the pots warmed up too much in spring.
Anyways, I’m trying 3 different softneck varieties — Tzan, Mild French, and Red Inchelium. I planted them deep, with a fair amount of mulch, in a spot that will get shaded some by a fig tree once it leafs out. Hopefully, that’ll keep it cool. Garlic does most of its growing in the winter here, so it’s had plenty of light to grow up to now. As an experiment, I also vernalized half my cloves in the fridge for a month.
Here is my little bed today:
So far, Tzan seems to be doing best, followed by Red Inchelium, followed by Mild French. The vernalized cloves are significantly outperforming the non-vernalized ones — they’re probably 1.5x as tall for all the varieties and the base of the greens is probably twice as thick. This "winter" has been extremely mild, but I’m still surprised to see such a big difference. Hopefully, I get some degree of success this year!
Last Edit: Feb 22, 2020 12:44:16 GMT -5 by alexintx
wow, that looks great Alex, thanks for sharing! Please keep us posted on how they do in the end, very curious. Those look like they'll produce some nice sized bulbs this year, fingers crossed they finish up well this season! it's definitely possible to grow nice garlic in your weather: my friend in georgia grew music and produced enormous bulbs!
Just so you know, even here when the soil temps. are kept cold, if it's a warm, sunny day, the garlic leaves will slightly wilt in full sun (65F+ temps), but at night, they'll be back to normal.
I like the fact that you vernalized the cloves before planting, definitely a good trick to get them to start growing immediately, you can catch up on growth when it's nice and cold. If you don't vernalize them, they'll just sit in the ground during all that outstanding cold weather, and once it warms up and gets too hot, they'll start growing.
Some updates on the garlic patch: the yellowing of leaves wasn't from the addition of sulfur! Found out because I had accidently not planted all the cloves and found some growing in the weeds a few feet away: they were left untouched and had the exact same yellowing issue, so it's gotta be either the cloves themselves or something to do with the weather. I suspect it was from too much rain, the soil was way too wet for too long, causing the outer leaf layers underground to rot. as soon as it stopped raining, the yellowing went away!
Fortunately, these have made a great recovery and are looking really nice! I think this will be another successful year! Pics taken 2/22/20:
the lower bed, this is early portuguese and spanish roja. Can't even tell they were struggling earlier in the year:
All new growth looks perfect, some old yellow leaf tips from the past still visible:
Some updates on the garlic patch. It was really hot for almost 3 weeks here in the Bay Area, and this really stressed out the plants. Day temperatures were in the mid to high 70's at one point! The weather changed drastically and got very cold/rainy! Since it's no longer hot, I removed the straw to prevent rot issues.
Overall, the plants this season have gone from happy to stressed to happy to stressed to happy again! Here are some updated pics, taken 3/23/20:
Overview of the 3 beds:
mostly early portuguese pictured here, with Xian, thai fire, and shandong in the background. All 3 varieties thrive here in the Bay Area, CA:
Many different new varieties being tested here, like ajo rojo (doing very well), burgundy (which thrived last year due to a cooler spring, but is struggling this year), spanish roja(doing poorly probably due to improper curing and subsequent disease formation), and a few others:
Two rows to the left are spanish roja, and two rows to the right are early portuguese. This bed isn't thriving, and I think it's because there's so many voles digging through the soil that the roots got damaged. Nevertheless, these will likely produce decent sized bulbs:
Georgia fire in the foreground, a variety not suitable for our climate, but it did decent last year. This year, you can tell one or two bulbs were disease free and are thriving, but the rest of the bulbs that were used for planting were stunted. Quality of planting stock has a huge impact on whether the plants do well or not:
Early portuguese. Last season, the weather was so great that there was practically zero yellowing of the leaves until it warmed up in the late spring. I've had continuous yellow of the lower leaves this year, but it doesn't seem to have much an effect on the health of this variety, which is very well adapted to our climate:
Last Edit: Mar 23, 2020 14:07:21 GMT -5 by meizzwang
sanguinearocks101: What are good plants to make hybrids with S. luecophylla with? Im looking for dark colors.
Sept 10, 2020 18:46:52 GMT -5
adaetz100: Sarracenia purpurea tends to add a lot of red/purple to its offspring, but there are some lovely dark red flava x leucophylla crosses too. Look up 'Royal Ruby' if you're not familiar with it already--it's a natural flava x leuco hybrid
Sept 22, 2020 20:15:04 GMT -5
sarrseens: How about $50
Oct 3, 2020 10:35:54 GMT -5