When people hear that I grow eighteen different named varieties of garlic their reactions are surprise and disbelief. Finding a garlic that will store for one full year is the primary goal. Since I lack a mature outlook, size also matters. The picture shows one representative from the three types grown here. On the left is a purple striped variety. Some have pliable stems that can be braided. The generous coloring makes them attractive. The squat plump cloves have a certain charm. In the center is a porcelain garlic. These store the longest. The huge cloves bake nicely. The cloves must be cut in pieces to fit in the press. On the right is a rocambole. These have the greatest number of cloves per bulb. Taste is best with these, but storage is the shortest.
Ground that is fit for planting is in limited supply here. Intensive planting is the rule. Garlic is allotted three areas each twelve feet long and five feet wide. The garlic goes in twenty-four by ten in each area. A more generous spacing would result in larger bulbs and fewer problems.
Fall planting a food crop in zone 4 is a rare treat. As Winter releases its grip on the garden, the garlic will be the first plant to show green growth. These are two reasons why I grow this crop. Today I am waiting for the frozen crust that formed last night to soften so that these old hands can plant the last garlic area. I hope for good snow cover and consistent cold temperatures. The garlic is put to bed waiting for the promise of spring.