Growing Gourmet Garlic, Part 1: Where to Get Seed and How Much to Plant


It is nearing the time of year when people begin asking me about the best way to plant and grow gourmet garlic. In the following series of blogs, I will address various issues involved with growing the best garlic you can. I will also share what we do at Calling Quail Farm, where we have been successfully cultivating and selling gourmet garlic for three seasons. Each season we have experimented with different aspects of garlic cultivation and processing; some of these trials have been a success, some less so. The basic requirements of each season remain constant, however, and each season begins with planting.

Gourmet Garlic Seed Stock

Whether you are a seasoned or beginner grower of garlic, the first issue at hand for planting is your seedSiberian Cultivar Of Gourmet Garlic stock. The ideal source of seed stock for growing gourmet garlic is your own seed. If you are already growing garlic it is a straightforward process to "save back" a quantity of your own bulbs. Replanting your own healthy stock is your best option because you can be assured both that a particular cultivar is adapted to your growing area, and that your seed is free of disease. If you want to significantly increase your planting stock for free, or you have a great bolting (scape-producing) garlic that you want to proliferate, you can save back and plant the bulbils. It will take between 2-5 years (depending on the strain) to receive full-sized bulbs with this method, but you should eventually be rewarded with sizeable amounts of robust, healthy stock. 

If this is your first time planting garlic, or you want to add new strains of stock to those you already have, there are several options for obtaining seed. The first decision to make, however, before acquiring gourmet garlic seed is what cultivar of garlic you wish to grow. There are hundreds of cultivars, most of which are grouped into 10 main types; Artichoke, Asiatic, Creole, Purple Stripe, Marbled Purple Stripe, Glazed Purple Stripe, Porcelain, Rocambole, Silverskin, and Turban. Each group has its own unique characteristics, and each cultivar within the group, its own unique flavor. Like other plants, different types of garlic perform better in particular growing conditions.

Since growing conditions will in large part dictate how successful your crop will be, your best chance for growing gourmet garlic is to source seed locally. Garlic that is already grown in soil and in a climate similar to that in which you will be planting will be more adapted to those conditions and more likely to produce good results. If there is one particular strain that you have your heart set on, but which cannot be locally sourced, go ahead and plant it. You likely won't get the best results in the first couple of years, but the cultivar should improve (within limits) as future generations will adapt to your local conditions.

Acquiring Locally Grown Garlic

Locally-sourced garlic is often readily obtained from local growers, via farmers markets and directly from theGourmet Garlic Drying farm. Buying first-hand this way gives you the opportunity to evaluate the available seed. You will also be able to question the grower about the performance of a particular strain, and ask for advice in getting the best results from the seed. Chances are, if a grower local to your area is getting good results with that particular type of garlic, you should be able to get gourmet results too.

Another option for acquiring seed is through seed companies. Seed companies, whether regional or national,  usually have an online catalogue and sales system, giving you a convenient option if local garlic is unavailable. These organizations should be able to recommend which of their seed stock would be best-suited to your area. Buying from a reputable, recognized seed company also provides a measure of security since you can usually be assured that the stock will be both viable and disease free.

10/14/2015 9:04:43 PM

Things for the article! If you are trying to find some Garlic Seed, there is a small farm in Fort Collins, CO that has Garlic Seed:

10/23/2013 3:22:07 PM

Perfect timing. I have been playing with growing garlic for a few years without much luck. Now this year I am planting in the fall for the first time which I'm hoping for better results. I look forward to the other parts of the article as they come out.

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