Garlic pre-sale begins next week, July 13th, 2022 and it might have some of you wondering what kind of garlic to grow. The beauty of growing your own garlic is that you can pick and choose the variety that is right for your cooking needs. We have a diverse offering here at Siskiyou Seeds which means there is something for everyone.
When you grow your own garlic you can be sure that it is grown free from pesticides.
Most grocery stores sell a generic looking softneck garlic which has a longer shelf life and unless it is marked organic it is grown with a lot of pesticides.
There are two main subcategories of garlic: softnecks and hardnecks. Hardneck garlic was selected from wild garlic strains and sends up a hard “flower” stalk known as a scape just before the bulb is ready to harvest. Softneck garlics were selected from the hardneck varieties and they do not send up a scape. They generally have more cloves per head and longer storage life but can be harder to peel.
If you are looking for excitement, color and variety of flavor I would recommend growing hardneck garlic. One of my favorite hardnecks to grow is Basque garlic. Originating as the name insinuates in Northern Spain it is a “turban” variety that is adaptable to many climates and finishes on the early side here in Oregon. Basque garlic is quite beautiful with dark purple stripes. It has a smooth mild oily flavor and is excellent eaten fresh in salad dressings, pesto or pickled. When Basque is freshly harvested the clove pops right out of the skin making it so easy to use.
For the adventurous grower try Kishlyk, our only wild garlic, a hardneck variety collected from Uzbekistan. Kishlyk is a bit of a rogue and produces some big bulbs and some little bulbs. What it lacks in uniformity it makes up for in flavor. When you plant a clove of garlic you are planting a clone of the previous generation which can lead to the development of disease over time. Wild garlic like Kishlyk has the ability to produce true seed from its flower. If you are interested in breeding garlic this is the variety for you.
Softneck garlic also known as braiding garlic can be plaited together to form a braid for hanging storage. What an excellent way to spend an afternoon braiding garlic together, weaving flowers in with the stems to make a long lasting edible ornament for your house. One of the most lovely soft necks is an artichoke variety called Inchelium. It produces large generous heads with elegant burgundy stripes and is really delicious when cooked. Inchelium will often have 15+ cloves per head making it great as a production garlic. You could also try Siskiyou Purple which we have been selecting for about 20 years here on the farm. A purple striped artichoke variety as well, it can store into May the following year with proper conditions.
You really can not go wrong growing garlic. It is one of the easiest and most rewarding crops to grow. I love the fall ritual of planting garlic in October here in Southern Oregon. It is one of the last things we plant, a signal that the farming season has come to a close, that rest is coming. Garlic is also one of the first things to be weeded in the Spring helping reinvigorate the body and prepare for the vigorous summer growing season ahead.