Four inch garlic heads!

mistervetch(z6b (NE TN))July 27, 2007

Spent some time in Martha's Vineyard MA last week, hit a farmers market, and found someone selling the largest cloves I've ever seen:

I arrived at the market an hour after opening, this vendor still had 10 or so left of these huge things. Hard to tell from just the photo, but the right clove is just a touch over four inches in diameter at its widest point, three inches at its narrowest.

I assumed elephant garlic, but the seller assured me she planted regular garlic cloves late last year, and they just all came up huge this year. Full, hot garlic flavor she said. Two more photos:

I purchased three, buck and a half per. Haven't busted any open yet, as I'm saving them to plant in a couple months. They don't look like elephants, tho since I don't grow elephant, I'm not an expert at identifying them. Each head has six cloves, eight if you include the two small mutant clove things popping out at opposite ends of each head (what's up with those?).

Seller didn't know what specific kind they were. Hardneck, appear to be completely eggshell white (no color streaks at all).

Any idea what these are? The Growing Great Garlic guy says to avoid bulbs over three inches, as you'll get erratic (mostly disappointing) results, but my curiosity will force me to plant every clove.

FYI, seller info: Tiasquam Brook Farm, out of West Tisbury MA. Flowers, herbs, vegetables. Plowing and mowing services too, heh heh.

Here is a link that might be useful:

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Those are huge! Will you try any of the cloves yourself or will you plant all? At my one of my local farmers' market, I picked up a large hardneck. The farmer would only tell me it's a hardneck and nothing further. Lending me the impression he knows more then he's letting on.

He had pulled them up that morning so I am curing it. I only purchased one bulb for $1 but I plan on growing a couple of cloves and eating/tasting the rest.

I only have 40 sq ft of space and plant garlic in about 15-18 sq ft.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2007 at 9:11AM
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I think I see corms embedded in the heads. If so, then it is elephant garlic.


    Bookmark   July 31, 2007 at 9:51AM
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korney19(z6a Buffalo, NY)

I the neck is still nearly an inch when dried...

    Bookmark   July 31, 2007 at 11:47AM
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mistervetch(z6b (NE TN))

Though they looked identical when I purchased them, it ends up that one head (the largest of the three) was softneck, the other two hardneck.

I opened the heads, out of curiosity and concern about the cloves rotting. The softneck weighed in at 229g, exactly half a pound. Smelled and tasted *horrible*, like I was eating weeds or something. I'll sample the hardnecks soon, hoping for a better result there. I think I'll still plant the majority of the remaining cloves, at least to see if I can grow half pound garlic.

Unless someone can tell me definitively that these things are elephants? How can that be if one was a softneck?


Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   August 5, 2007 at 3:25AM
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korney19(z6a Buffalo, NY)

I can't think of ANY real garlic with cloves the size of 2 quarters. The only garlic I *personally* have grown that gave me cormes was Elephant. That's not to say that there aren't any true garlics that produce cormes (Elephant is actually in the Leek family, not a true garlic), I just never had any varieties with cormes.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2007 at 10:24AM
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coho(z8/9 N. Calif)

If anyone identify s these as anything other than Elephants, I will certainly be surprised. The little buggers on the sides are quite normal for Elephant bubils. The one that tasted like weeds must have been spoiled in some way, if not, try growing out some of its cloves and bubils and see what they do.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2007 at 10:57PM
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ole_dawg(7 UpCountry SC)

We love you to death, but how about learning to post the pics so that we don't have to go off forum to see them.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2007 at 9:10PM
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garliclady(z7 NC)

Those are definately Elephant garlic ,on our farm we gro sevral hundred pounds of elephnat garlic a year plus many other hard & softnecks. The corms on the sides of the garlic , the thick neck, the color and texture of the papery covering, the thick roots and the nummer of cloves and the color and shape of the exposed cloves show it is elephnat. 4" is large but not unusual. Here is a picture of our 1 1/2 # elephant garlic we grew last year .
Here is also a link to last years post and picture about that garlic

Here is a link that might be useful: Big Garlic

    Bookmark   October 7, 2007 at 11:36PM
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korney19(z6a Buffalo, NY)

You said, ''4'' is large but not unusual.''

Were you referring to regular garlic or elephant? I don't think I've ever grown elephant smaller than 4 inches.


    Bookmark   October 8, 2007 at 4:50PM
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garliclady(z7 NC)

4" is not unusual for elephant. We sometimes get elephant rounds that are small, the size of a golf ball. If you start from corms of course you will get small stuff but generally the small ones are around 2 1/2-3" and most are in the 3 1/2 -4 1/2 Range.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2007 at 9:54PM
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I find the elephant garlic has to be cured for some time before it develops a good flavor. Otherwise it is wet and unpleasant. But, once cured, nice to roast especially glazed with a bit of olive oil. Makes a good addition to roasted winter root veggies.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2007 at 5:43PM
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garliclady(z7 NC)

I agree well cured elephant has a much better taste. It takes longer to cure elephant and it is the one garlic we never sell fresh except as very young green garlic in the spring.Mister vetch did the soft neck have alot of cloves or just one or two. I have seen elephant that form two or 3 cloves bot had little or no neck "stalk"?

I just got back from the Virginia garlic festival and because of the drought on the east coast the largest garlic weighed in at only 1/2 pound. They usually weigh at least a pound. We didn't even enter one in the contest this year ours were less than that.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2007 at 11:44PM
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mistervetch(z6b (NE TN))

Thanks everyone for your input. The evidence suggests that these things are indeed elephants. Though the vendor assured me they weren't elephants, and one of 'em was softneck, one cannot argue with the following:

-- The two mutant little cormes on each one
-- The number of folks in this thread who can look at the pics and say with certainty that they're elephants. I never grew elephant before, so I can't identify them by sight.
-- They were not cured at all, and tasted and smelled terrible.

I planted 11 of these cloves, four from the softneck on 16 October, rest from the two hardnecks 22 Oct. I'll try to remember to give a report of the results in June.


    Bookmark   November 14, 2007 at 10:21AM
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mistervetch(z6b (NE TN))

For The Garliclady:

The softneck had ten cloves (plus two cormes), in two layers. The link below shows a pic of the softneck right after I removed all the paper.

I tasted the third largest clove (raw and sauteed, 'yecch' in both instances!), and planted the remaining four large ones. Chucked the rest, though I would've planted all of 'em if the flavor was up to scratch.

I have no explanation why this one was a softneck. I s'pose it could've been just a 'soft hardneck', but I remember it wasn't close to resembling a hardneck; I don't think I'd be fooled by something that should be easy to see.


Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   November 14, 2007 at 11:18AM
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garliclady(z7 NC)

That still looks like elephant .The cloves look different than softneck and will often be shiny &greenish. I had several each year that do not form a stalk (or not much of one ) but still form cloves. Although elephant usually only forms 3-5 cloves I have seen it form up to ten. Some of the cloves were small and were in the middle.
I never recomend elephant for raw eatting . I like well cured elephant roasted in vegetables or with meat. I stuff my thabksgiving turkey with a head or two each year. Most of our elephant goes in our home made garlic powder though.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2007 at 11:21PM
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kristenmarie(Z4-5/New Mexico)

Totally agree it's definitely an elephant, but I'd like to add, some of the Porcelains can get almost that big for us, and definitely can get cloves as big as two quarters. German Extra Hardy and Cichi both get that big for us.
The Porcelains only have 4-5 cloves per bulb and they can get ENORMOUS. I love the Porcelains for that very reason-- not so much peeling if you want to chop tons of garlic without using a press.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2008 at 10:08PM
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