Garlic - worth the trouble?

mctiggs(2b (WPG, MB))April 2, 2013

Hey all, just wanted to ask an opinion. I have a vegetable garden in which I mostly grow hard-to-find plants, such as exotic hot peppers, heirloom tomatoes, funky-colored carrots, etc. Basically, I grow stuff I can't buy at the supermarket locally.

But I also love garlic. Someone told me that home-grown garlic is much better than store bought. I personally have no gripe with market garlic, at least where I get it. I've never even considered growing it myself, until now.

Being Scottish, I am definitely asking myself why I would go to the trouble of growing garlic when I can easily buy a head for 17 cents. Is there any noticeable advantage to home-grown, flavour wise?

Thanks

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LynnMarie_(5 SW Kansas)

I am going to find out. I have planted garlic for the first time and will harvest it this summer. I don't yet know about the taste, but it has, so far, been very easy to grow. Basically, I just poked them into the tilled and raked soil. They didn't do much last fall, but are growing beautifully this spring. They came up about the same time as the tulips. So- I think they are fairly worry free so far. And, for me, a little will go a long way. I planted two kinds. I did it just for the fun of it because I had never grown it before. I am pretty excited about it and can't wait until it is ready.

Lynn

    Bookmark   April 2, 2013 at 3:15PM
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jadeite(6/7)

Most garlic sold in supermarkets is California White and variations on CW. If you like the flavor, then it's certainly cheap to buy. If you really like garlic, try growing a bulb or two next fall. Or if there's a farmer's market where someone sells locally grown garlic, buy some and taste it. To my tastebuds, the varieties I've tried have so much more flavor than the supermarket CW that there's no comparison.

We planted our first lot last fall, and we're eagerly waiting to see what we will harvest. So far we have green stalks so something is growing!

Cheryl

    Bookmark   April 2, 2013 at 3:52PM
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erikarochelle(6a)

Just for kicks, we ordered four varieties Fall 2012 just to see, since we can sell most anything we don't use to our local co-op. We planted Inchellium Red, Silver Rose, German Red and Purple Glazer. We kept some of the cloves for a taste test party.

The garlics each tasted different from each other, and each tasted different from the supermarket garlic. Inchellium Red was perhaps the most wonderful tasting garlic I've ever had in my entire life as eaten in garlic butter. Some of the others were more delicious roasted. All except Purple Glazer were more subtle than the supermarket garlic--we weren't very impressed with the Purple Glazer.

We haven't harvested any yet, obviously, but almost every clove has sprouted several inches already this year, so I have high hopes. It was very easy to plant, just stick the cloves in the soil, and all I did for them this winter was to mulch with straw. If I get a decent harvest this year, then I will definitely be hooked.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2013 at 6:43PM
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claydirt(5)

mctiggs, welcome to Gardenweb. It looks like you just registered? To me, 17 cents almost sounds like a locally grown produce price. Elephant garlic is about 3 bucks here.

I plan on growing some garlic for the first time this year. My wife made me do it. I'm not a big garlic fan. I prefer growing onions but I'll keep an open mind.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 7:09AM
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gemini_jim(7 MD)

I've been growing it for the last 6 years or so, and we've been mostly self-sufficient in garlic the last two. I think it's totally worth it, but then I find it fun and endlessly fascinating to grow. It's not difficult, and only marginally time-consuming for short spells in the fall planting and summer harvest periods.

The main practical advantages of growing it are the greater variety that is available and the other produce you can harvest: green garlic and garlic scapes. Those are things that sell for a premium at farmers markets if and when they are available.

Depending on your climate, you can follow your garlic harvest with a quick-maturing summer or fall crop, so you get more efficient use of your garden space, and growing garlic may help control some soil diseases and pests.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 8:02AM
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planatus(6)

As a fellow foodie, I think you do need to try a couple of easy, well-known varieties. For whole bulbs to bake with sea salt and olive oil, grow huge Music. Also try a rocambole like Spanish Roja for salads, pickling, and random culinary adventures. Both produce big, juicy scapes, which are fun to work with in the kitchen.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 9:17AM
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wertach zone 7-B SC

I agree planatus, the Spanish Roja is excellent raw and pickled. The flavor doesn't seem to hold up to cooking though.

I only add it after cooking.

This post was edited by wertach on Mon, Apr 15, 13 at 11:16

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 2:16PM
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mctiggs(2b (WPG, MB))

Thanks folks, I will attempt to find some of the types you've mentioned, which may be a bit of a struggle since I'm in Canada and there are restrictions on shipping "produce" from the US.

I appreciate all of your input so far.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 2:52PM
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macky77(2a)

Hi, mctiggs! I'm in Canada and just planted garlic for the first time last fall. Someday the snow will melt here and I hope to see my first spring garlic sprouts. ;)

I ordered form Boundary Garlic Farm in B.C. The heads that came in the mail were gorgeous and they shipped very quickly. There's a tonne of info on their website and lots of varieties to choose from (some have been mentioned here above). If you order from them, be aware that there are popular varieties that sell out quickly. Take note of when they open for orders in the fall and stick around the computer that day. I woke up early that day last fall and put my order in before sunrise. By afternoon, one of the varieties I ordered had sold out.

Edited to add... just consulted their website. General sales to Canadian customers will open August 20, 2013. They do not open the shopping cart on their site until then because they don't know what quantities will be available until harvest.

This post was edited by macky77 on Wed, Apr 3, 13 at 21:48

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 9:45PM
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Hammerga

I am not sure what kind of garlic I grow, other than it is a soft neck. I have been growing this garlic for 18 years. I think it puts anything in the grocery store to same. I have often wondered if my soil is not a factor. Much like what animals eat effects the taste of the meat. Anyone that has finish hogs off on apples knows what I mean. So if you love good garlic, growing you own is well worth trying

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 10:21PM
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