So, for the past n years I’ve been growing bog-standard, hardneck garlic, in what I now consider the mistaken belief that it has a better flavour. I forget the variety, I’ve been saving the bulbs for next year – apparently garlic ‘adapts’ to the local soil. I have no idea if that’s true.
It was okay. I got decent crops of medium-sized bulbs that tasted – well – like garlic, actually. There was enough to last through ’til about April, though by that point it was, cough, well past its best.
I understood that softneck garlic, even if it didn’t taste quite as good, was a good keeper, so last year at RHS Hampton Court Flower Show, I bought a bulb of Early Purple Wight from the Garlic Farm. I intended to plant a bulb of my own, unknown variety as well, but in the end didn’t have room. One bulb of the Early Purple Wight yielded 12 cloves, 9 of which germinated. In future years, I’ll buy two.
I always plant my garlic in mid September, so it has a good opportunity to get established before the cold of winter. This could have been disastrous. My leeks, a couple of beds away, were decimated by a brand new pest, allium leaf miner. The satanic moths of the ALM fly in October and May – two chances to infect the garlic too. Perhaps in October the seedlings were too small to bother the moth with all those tasty leeks so close, but by May I should have known better.
I have my own, convoluted excuses for not meshing them against the moth, but hands up, I didn’t. I feared for the worse.
I’ve harvested slightly early as I was so worried about the crop turning to mush in my hands, but my fears were, no thanks to my skills as a gardener, allayed. Not only do I have a superb, giant crop of lovely garlic, but it tastes fantastic. Giant, pure-white, crispy cloves with just the right amount of melt.
The allotment’s had a lot of site break-ins recently so I didn’t want to lay the crop out to dry. I took it home but with the proliferation of squirrels in the back garden, I hung it out on the line. After a shower, I then hung it the other way up to avoid moisture gathering in the crevices.
I’ve used one bulb already and plaited the rest for storage. To be honest I’m not sure if I’ll find out how long they’ll store for, they taste so good. I’ll almost certainly not have any left over to plant again.
Good job I’m off to Hampton Court again next week…