2013 Garlic will ship in early September!
** Premium Seed Garlic: $17 / pound **
When you speak garlic in the Okanogan Highlands you say
Spanish Roja. Roja is the favorite here among most
growers and users of garlic. This is surely a gourmet
garlic. It has three main advantages for the garlic
lover. First is its taste, though not the hottest, it
is a garlic with zing. It's the best garlic I've ever
tasted. Second is the large size of the cloves and
third is the ease with which they peel. I get
frustrated with garlic that has multiple tiny cloves and
skins that are glued on. Roja practically leaps from
A large long keeping tasty garlic of the soft neck variety, great for braiding. The large cloves make it convenient to cook with. Red Inchelium is grown and harvested like Spanish Roja, but there are no tops to take off.
This is a hard neck garlic like Spanish Roja, but ideally has only four
large cloves per bulb. This gives the bulb a square look. This specialty garlic looks unusual but has a pungent flavor.
Growing Garlic in Northern Gardens
Garlic grows very well in cold climates; in fact the best quality garlic grows in places with a good covering of snow on the ground in winter. Garlic is not that difficult to grow but there are secrets to really high quality garlic.
The first secret is to grow Spanish Roja garlic. Spanish Roja is the queen of garlic. It tastes wonderful, is piquant, and it peels like a dream. It has a beautiful color with large cloves and it thrives in a cold climate. We also grow Red Inchelium, which is very large soft neck garlic that keeps well. It is not as easy to peel as Spanish Roja, however.
The second secret is to get high quality seed garlic. Any garlic can be used for seed garlic. You can use garlic from the grocery store. We don't advise this since seed garlic should be a one time purchase. You need never buy seed garlic again, unless you want to try another variety. You simply select the best garlic (by your criteria), to use for seed each season. The seed you plant is like an heirloom, you can give it to friends, sell it and pass it to your children and grandchildren. Your garlic can become a family heirloom. I can think on nothing better to pass along than garlic.
The third secret is to plant in the fall. Garlic will do all right if spring planted, but we find that it does much better planted in the fall, and seems to know when the best time to sprout and grow in the spring. We plant in October, being sure to get the garlic in before November 1st, in our zone 5 climate. Plant about 2" deep and 6" apart in rows 8" apart, and mulch if you get to it.
The fourth secret is to rotate your crop. We rotate on a three year plan. We divide our annual garden into three parts and one part is garlic each year. Using this method, we grow organic garlic with no pesticides or herbicides, and have been doing it for 26 years, on this piece of land.
The fifth secret is to pop your tops. If you snap off the curled top to the garlic in the early summer, the garlic will put more energy into the bulbs under the ground and they will be larger. This does not apply to the Red Inchellium, which is a soft neck garlic and does not have the top sets.
The sixth secret is to cure your garlic well. This process begins while the garlic is still in the ground. Let the garlic dry in the ground for the last two weeks before harvest, if possible. This makes harvest easier and cleaning very easy. Pull the garlic and leave in the sun till the surface is dry. I usually lay it on the ground for an hour, turning once. Then cure in a dry airy space for a week or two. I hang the garlic in bunches from the rafters but have also cured my garlic on racks.
The final secret is in good storage. This is probably where the most garlic is lost. Sometimes a variety of garlic gets the reputation of not keeping well, but actually it is not cured and stored well. Garlic is best stored in a cool, dry, and well ventilated place. Not a root cellar or a refrigerator. Baskets and net bags are ideal. Hard neck garlic keeps very well stored bulbs up, in a container, with the stem attached.
When to Harvest Garlic
I harvest Red Inchelium and Zemo in July, and Spanish Roja in August, in the cool climate of the Okanogan Highlands. In the warmer valleys near here, they usually harvest a month earlier. The later harvest means a longer keeping garlic. When the outer leaves of the garlic start to die back, it is getting time to harvest. Pull the garlic, tie into bundles and hang out of the sun in an airy dry shelter for two weeks while they cure. Then cut off the tops and roots and store in a dry airy place. Do not store in plastic or in a closed container. Check your garlic periodically for any spoilage.
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Good Seed Box 165 Hot Springs, MT 59845 USA
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