Seen at the Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden ~ Chinese proverb

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Garlic Surprise


Just before Christmas last year, I was surprised to find 6 heads of garlic in my vegetable basket from 2013's harvest. The heads were much larger than last year's rust affected crop and so were easy to date. How on earth I missed them in there is a mystery.

I was even more surprised to find some of the cloves were good enough for cooking - they had retained a strong flavour and were relatively firm. Chopping them ready for the casserole I was making revealed the beginnings of a green shoot inside... and that got me thinking.

That green shoot suggests the cloves are still viable for growing and as they've survived over a year of storage (most garlic either shrivels away or starts to shoot at the start of the next growing season), I could have the potential for a very good strain on my hands.

So I've gone through the pictured remaining 3 heads and selected the cloves which are firm. I composted many more, but I was left with 16 fat cloves and 21 slightly thinner ones. The latter in particular may not have enough oomph to do that well, or will be good enough for green garlic at best, but I have high hopes for the 16 fat ones.

I've started them off in modules just to see how many cloves are viable. Like the bulbs I wrote about a couple of years ago, this is another example of me breaking the rules, just to see what will happen. I'll plant any out on the allotment (well away from the white rot area) that show signs of healthy growth over the next couple of weeks.

The variety is Solent Wight - has anyone else found this variety (or any other) with a longer than expected storage life?

Update: The garlic sprouted, but there wasn't enough oomph left in them to grow properly after a month or so.

22 comments:

  1. That's really interesting. I grow Solent Wight and I do find that they store well, although I've never had enough left over to keep them for the following year. I shall look forward to seeing how they do, I suspect they'll all be fine.

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  2. Wow - I will be very interested to see how they grow. I do find Solent Wight an excellent storer. In years when I've ended up with an over abundance of garlic, i have found this variety still firm & viable (the green shoots) a year after harvesting. But two, wowzers!

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    1. I'll keep you posted on this and my chilli project Gwenfar :)

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  3. Yes, this is a great way to select for your own long-keeping variety. I hope you've got some viable cloves there. Just be sure to keep track of them and their descendants and eventually you'll have something to name yourself. I couldn't do this because I always end up eating all the garlic I grow!

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    1. Yes, that's tip I gleaned from Patrick at Bifurcated Carrots a few years ago. I've been thwarted a couple of times though by us eating up all the garlic!

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  4. It will be very interesting to see how your garlic develops, I hope they give you a bumper crop!
    We went to the Garlic Farm on the Isle of Wight a couple of years ago, what an amazing place it is, the shop sells anything with a garlic connection!

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    1. I've been there too Pauline, the year before the new cafe was opened. On a very cold March day they made us some fresh asparagus soup with garlic bread. It's one of my most memorable meals ever - in the simplest of surroundings, with the freshest ingredients and made especially for us.

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  5. Very interesting! Will be watching your blog to see how they do

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  6. Last years garlic harvest was poor so I am hoping for better this year.

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    1. It seems plenty of us had a poor harvest last year. Mine succumbed to rust :(

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  7. Oh I hope they all grow...what a great surprise.

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  8. Life is full of ‘breaking the rules’ just to see what happens :-)
    I don’t grow garlic so I have no experience, I wish I could find some dahlia tubers or lily bulbs I didn’t know about at the back of my cupboards, but probably not much chance for that! Good luck with your garlic babies, may they grow into good size grown-ups.

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    1. I have experience of forgotten dahlia tubers - sadly found much later and all shrivelled up. That's why this garlic is even more of a surprise!

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  9. Oh dear. I've given up on growing garlic. It does fine to begin with and then just dies overnight. And with only two of us in the house it is actually cheaper to just buy when we need it. Sad.

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    1. If all goes to plan this will be even cheaper Colleen as it'll all be from saved cloves. I've yet to get beyond keeping it past 5 years though...

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  10. Interesting to read VP. I usually grow 'Solent Wight' and have found it to be really long lasting and have used it over a year after harvesting. It's stored in our utility room which is not heated over winter. For some reason I did not plant any garlic in the autumn as I normally do. I was delighted to pick up a pot of three already shooting cloves of 'Iberian Wight' via 'The Garlic Farm' at a garden centre the other day. I may also plant up a few cloves of last year's crop whilst it's still cold. Will be curious to find out the outcome of your experiment.

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    1. Hi Anna - I'll be giving an update once I know whether the cloves are growing or not!

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  11. I've had best luck with garlic that grew for 8 months before harvest lasting longer compared to 4-5 month garlic. This might be due to its larger size.

    And thinking about green garlic reminded me to ask--Could we do another 52 week salad challenge again this year?

    Sharon

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    1. Hi Sharon - I always go for fatter cloves if I can, so that seems to fit with your observations.

      Re the Salad Challenge - I will be posting from time to time, but not as regularly as before. Everything's listed on the 52 Week Salad Challenge Page in the right sidebar, so the Challenge is always there for you and anyone else who would like to have a go :)

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