Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Super Colossal gin-soaked garlic

Many of us gardeners are just not ready for our plots to go to bed. We know it's October, but we want to stay up a little longer. I'm no exception, and a post in Dark Creek Chronicles reminded me that October is the perfect time to start garlic. So I put "plant garlic" on my to-do list for the following week, and not long after, a post in Daphne's Dandelions explained how to prepare garlic cloves for planting. I was intrigued by this approach because a) of the mixed results my husband had in the past with growing garlic and b) she had success with this in the past.

The beauty of garlic is that you don't need to order bulbs, though some gardeners do to grow particular varieties. I just headed over to my local supermarket and bought a couple of bulbs. "Super Colossal Garlic" was written on the sign. I bought two for a total of 69 cents, took them home and googled "super colossal garlic," but didn't find much. One site described it as "the whimpy cousin of the California garlic in flavor if not in size." Ouch. But it also added that it was a "nice addition to soups, salads or to a roast." "Super colossal" is also a name used for types of olives and shrimp.Yesterday I soaked cloves from 1 1/2 bulbs in a baking soda/water solution as Daphne did, and today I peeled the cloves and soaked them some more. Daphne had used vodka, but I didn't have any, though I did have some really old gin left over from my wedding reception over 12 years ago, so I used that for a quick soak. I also found some information from Garlic Central about planting the bulbs. Because it contains the antifungal compound allicin, there can be benefits from planting it near some other crops, such as lettuce where it can help keep aphids away. However, it doesn't do well near peas, potatoes, or legumes.I planted my cloves in four different places. At home I'm short on sunlight and at the Minton Stable Garden I'm short on space. I planted around 14 cloves, 6 at the MSG (above), 6 in a backyard plot where I can usually get in a spring crop of lettuce and peas before the leaves shade things out, in a box along a fence behind my house near a spot where basil grew successfully, and in a couple of pots on the front upstairs porch. We'll see if by next August if there will be any garlic ready to add to that first batch of salsa.


Dan said...

12 year old gin, that's some premo vintage stuff ;-)

Daphne said...

That was like the vodka I used. It had been sitting down in the basement forever. I hope your garlic does well. Last year I planted some garlic from the supermarket that was labeled that it was from Argentina. I think the cloves were om their last legs because 3 of the 8 cloves rotted out over the winter. It isn't surprising I guess since they had probably picked it 8 months before if it was from South America. The cloves I got from Seed Savers all lived. Every last one of them.

It is interesting that they say don't plant them near potatoes. I'd never heard that before. I knew about the legumes and I struggle with that every year since I have one bed that is greens, alliums and peas. I try to keep the peas and alliums apart but don't always succeed.

Sally said...

Daphne, You make a good point about the supermarket-bought garlic. The bulb always looks white and pristine on the outside but the inside is a different picture. I didn't find any of the blemishes or rot that you had shown as an example in your post. However, I almost always have more success with anything native-grown; perhaps if this garlic doesn't make it I'll buy something different or get another gardener to give me some of theirs.

Garlic Central did not provide a reason for why it's not beneficial to grow garlic near potatoes. They go so well together in cooking.

Dan: I still have plenty of that gin, if it's worth something!

Giulietta the Muse said...

Sally, you could write a book, "A year of eating organic garden grown food." Fascinating info about garlic! Are there other sources of garlic than the supermarket? Mail order? How would someone grow it from scratch?



Sally said...

I wish I had enough experience to write such a book! About buying garlic, there are many kinds of bulbs available online, for eating and growing.

Thanks for asking. Garlic can be grown from the individual cloves you have in the fridge, though they may not be fresh and do so well. You can peel and soak them before planting, like I did, or even plant them unpeeled. We'll see how mine do.

Bryan Bunch said...

I have always had great garlic crops when using cloves grown locally (we have a big annual garlic festival nearby). I plant them unsoaked and unpeeled with the pointy end up. The classic advice is to plant them on the shortest day of the year and harvest on the longest day--but I think that must be in England or Italy. Here I usually plant in November and harvest in July. Did not grow any this year, but you reminded me that it is not too late for next year. Thanks.