Tuesday, July 10

So how did our garlic grow?

I've now pulled all the garlic - except the elephant garlic that was planted directly on the plot. If you remember my harvesting was initiated by the fact that this lot had become rusty. This meant that at best the garlic wasn't going to grow any more.

I'd planted 9 varieties of ordinary garlic and then a few cloves of elephant garlic and was interested to see how the varieties compared. I also had grown the garlic in three different ways. One lot was started off in pots in the cold greenhouse in mid October and transplanted onto the plot at the end of March. A second lot was planted at the same time but in large tubs. The tubs were left in the cold greenhouse until March when they were lifted outside. The third lot were planted the day after the others directly into the ground on the plot. I described this in more detail in this post.

The garlic started in the greenhouse began shooting in early November with the cloves planted on the plot being only a little behind.  The varieties that grew away quickest were, Lautrec Wight, Edenrose, Germidour and Early Purple Wight.

The first bulbs pulled were Albigensian Wight which had produced decent sized bulbs but these hadn't formed cloves so I was a bit concerned that all the other garlic would follow this pattern.

There were varying numbers of cloves of each variety planted directly in the ground - I just planted whatever I had left after setting the cloves in pots and tubs with three cloves of each variety planted in each situation.

Surprisingly the cloves planted in pots and later transplanted perfomed the poorest. They were off to a good start but it seemed they resented the move - roots had hardly ventured out of the compost ball in which they were initially planted. All varieties produced small bulbs.

Both the tub and plot grown garlic performed much better with maybe the tub grown having the slight edge. The tub grown garlic had no sign of rust which is maybe due to it being in the garden where there was less chance of the rust spreading from other plots. Although the plot grown garlic grew fairly well it was very dry last winter and I'm not sure that it would have been equally happy had the ground become waterlogged as is often the case.

So far the variety that has performed best is the commonly grown Early Purple Wight - I suppose there had to be some reason for it being so popular. This variety was the best performer in all planting scenarios.
What's more the Early Purple Wight bulbs that I have checked have formed cloves - I haven't checked other varieties yet though.
Early Purple Wight is a hard neck variety and so isn't supposed to store well which is a pity seeing as it had produced the best harvest. The best softneck out of the varieties planted is Iberian Wight but to be honest that isn't very impressive and I don't yet know whether or not it has formed cloves.

As for taste - I must admit (shock, horror) - to my unrefined palate, one garlic tastes very much the same as another ... garlicky!  So it looks as though Early Purple Wight has earned its place on the list for next year but I'm undecided about a soft neck variety.

I won't be starting garlic off in pots next year but will set some in tubs and some directly in the plot. The tubs will be kept in the greenhouse and later put out in the garden to avoid rust and the garlic on the plot will have to cope with whatever the weather sends. If we have a soggy winter to mimic our soggy summer I will be interested to see how it performs.

I've produced a summary of our garlic experiment results here and will add to it as I have more information.

PS - Thanks to Tanya for spotting that I had made an error setting up the CEANOTHUS sudoku - it's now been fixed so remember to have a go! I think the hat will be coming out for this one as you will know if you have got it all correct won't you?

16 comments:

  1. Not a bad haul Sue - I wish my harvest was as good - because I have no harvest - after getting rust they all just disappeared. Better luck next time eh

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    1. Mine were useless last year Elaine which is why we went for the collection. Trouble with gardening is that you can never be sure of a repeat performance.

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  2. A very methodical study, Sue. Especially interesting for someone like me who has next-to-no experience with growing garlic.
    I can see any bulbs on my plants (yet?). Do they form above or below the soil surface?

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    1. They grow beneath the surface, Mark so you can't really tell until you dig them up. Generally you pick when the leaves turn yellow or they bend over (depending on whether they are hard or soft neck). This is a sign that there will be no more growth made.

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  3. Sue- Thanks for sharing "the great garlic experiment". From the photos that you posted it all looks lovely, especially the "winner" Early purple Wight. I too pulled my first garlic - a hard-neck this week. I planted three varities and am interested to see if I can discern any difference in taste. I think I might be like you and they will all just taste garlicky :)

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    1. It's difficult to see the size difference in the photos, Lexa. The ones in the photos on the blog are the ones grown in the tubs. Which varieties di you grow?

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  4. My garlic is showing no signs of rust but isn't ready to be pulled yet as it went in late.

    I have to admit all garlic tastes the same to me too..just some are slightly stronger.n I have no idea what sort I grew last year but i still have a few bulbs left and they stored fine in a wooden bowl in my kitchen....I didn't even know there were hard and soft necked varieties....at times I still feel like a newbie to this gardening lark!!

    Oh and thanks for the mention...it was really nice :-)

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    1. I remember you waiting and waiting for the garlic to arrive, Tanya. With gardening there's always something to learn - at times we are all newbies.

      Glad to give you a mention - if you hadn't spotted by mistake it would have been a mess of a competition.

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  5. It's funny how some things just don't like to be transplanted. I enjoy doing little experiments, seeing which grows best and what's the best way of doing things. As well as turning up some answers for us, it's something else to keep us interested.

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    1. The onions and shallots transplanted OK, Jo and I'm sure I've been successful with garlic in the past. I think the problem was that the garlic had made too much root and behaved how pot bound plants behave - the roots circled.

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  6. Interesting. I'd never thought of growing garlic in tubs before but it looks like it worked out well. I've always heard the purple varieties taste best but I've never compared side-by-side. I know though that I don't like the little white bulbs they sell at our supermarket - very harsh flavour!

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    1. Pity they don't mention what type this is Naomi

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  7. Very interesting. I've planted two varieties, but have forgotten what they are, so I won't be able to do a scientific study like you have! Rust is a problem for us too, so am holding my breath to see what comes up out of the soil.

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    1. I think this year's weather has been just what rust thrives in Linda

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  8. planted albigensian wight in a pot and there r 2 or 3 bulbs forming at the base of the stalk..?Can I use these to cook/eat?

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  9. I'm not sure about that - I dare say you can eat them but I'm not sure whether they will taste good.

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