We get lots of questions about garlic – and I’ve tried to answer them the best I can here in this article.
Q. Can I plant the garlic from the grocery store?
A. No. The garlic you buy at the store is a “field run,” which means it’s grown only for cooking, not for seed stock. If you do plant it, you’re likely to get a poor, puny crop.
Q. How is seed garlic different from grocery store garlic?
A. Our seed garlic is heirloom garlic, carefully husbanded over generations. It has been selected for vigor, output, uniformity, and most importantly, its ability to grow with the least amount of problems. It’s been carefully inspected and certified to be free of disease and nematodes. And unlike much of the stock in grocery stores, it hasn’t been treated with fumigation chemicals or sprout inhibitors.
Q. How do I plant it?
A. You plant the cloves, not the bulbs. Do not peel the cloves – leave on the thin papery outer covering. If you have more cloves than you need, plant only the biggest ones, because bigger cloves mean bigger heads of garlic. You’ll notice the two ends of the clove are different: one end is pointy, and one end is flat. Place the flat end down, about 1 or 2 inches deep for a winter planting. If you live in an area with really harsh winters, you may want to plant them up to 4 inches deep. Space each clove about 5 inches apart. If you’re doing multiple rows, leave about a foot between each row. Water regularly for the first few weeks to help the roots get established.
Q. When should I plant garlic for a spring crop?
A. You can plant your garlic pretty much any time now through November, depending on where you live. Some people plant it even later, though, and harvest in early summer instead of spring.
Q. Can Heirloom Solutions garlic that I grow then be used for garlic seed stock?
Q. Is garlic really as healthy as everyone says?
A. It really is. The National Institutes of Health medical studies database (otherwise known as “Pub Med”) lists over 5,200 studies involving garlic. Here’s just a tiny fraction of what garlic can do for you:
- Heart health: Garlic supports healthy cholesterol and blood sugar levels. It supports fibrinolysis, which slows blood coagulation and helps dissolve blood clots. It supports aortic flexible, and inhibits blood platelet stickiness. (In animal studies, it reduces arterial plaque deposits by 50%.)
- Immune health: Garlic supports the activation of macrophages, which engulf and destroy foreign invaders like bacteria and viruses.
The list of what garlic can do goes on and on. Why bother with “an apple a day”? Daily garlic is the way to go.
Q. Are there different kinds of garlic, and if so, are there any guidelines on how to choose the right one for my climate?
A. We carry five different varieties (first come, first served, so don’t put off ordering), and while all of them do perform well in most climates, you may notice one is particularly suited to your climate or your preferences more than another. If your first choice is sold out, don’t hesitate to plant another variety instead. You should still get great results.
- Chesnok Red (also known as Shvelisi) originates from The Republic of Georgia. This widely adapted variety can withstand extremely harsh winters. Cloves are purple striped and easy to peel. It’s one of the best garlics for baking and roasting. It keeps for up to 6 months in good storage conditions. Hardneck, 8-12 cloves per bulb, 6-8 bulbs per pound.
- Chet’s Italian Red was handed down from the late Chet Stevenson of Tonasket, Washington. Chet found this variety growing wild in an abandoned garden in the 1960s and very carefully refined the strain over the next 25 years. It’s a good keeper and great for roasting. Softneck, 12-20 cloves per bulb, 6-8 bulbs per pound.
- German Extra Hardy is our best performing garlic, year after year. It’s a very sturdy plant with an extremely strong root system. It has a strong garlic flavor when raw but is sweet when cooked. Roast it for a rich, sweet, caramely flavor. If you can’t decide which garlic to get, this is always a safe bet. Hardneck, 5-7 cloves per bulb, 5-6 bulbs per pound.
- Music is an Italian variety brought to Canada by Al Music in the 1980s from his homeland. Its large purple striped cloves are easy to peel. Raw, it has a spicy flavor; cooked, it’s sweet and mild; roast it, and it caramelizes deliciously. Hardneck, 5-6 cloves per bulb, 5-6 bulbs per pounds.
- Persian Star (also known as Samarkand) was collected in the 1980s in Uzbekistan. Its beautiful striped bulbs yield a pleasant flavor with a mild spicy zing. This great all-purpose variety delivers consistent yields. Hardneck, 6-9 cloves per bulb, 6-8 bulbs per pound.