...sometimes even a single feather is enough to fly. (Robert Maclean)


2015 garlic harvest

We harvested our garlic crop a few weeks ago.
Unfortunately, many of the new varieties I planted didn't do as well as I had hoped.
 I didn't water during some dry periods when I should have, and that may have impacted yields.
Plus, most of the "new" varieties I trialed were adapted to Oregon climate and soil.
Oh well, c'est la vie!  

It was worth a shot, and it's not a total loss...
I might try to grow a few of these types again. 
But more than anything, 
this year's harvest certainly renewed my appreciation 
for our tried and true variety,
passed to us from our friend Wendy.
(The sumptuous picture above is of her garlic.)

She doesn't remember what variety or varieties she gave to us.
 We should just call it Wendy's Wonder.

It never disappoints.

Wendy's Wonder drying over an old chicken nesting box in the shed.

Other varieties, bundled, strung up with twine, hanging to dry.

Growing so many different varieties of one thing, it's important to keep track. 
I kept the row markers in with the bundles so I knew what was what.


Now if you're ready for some garlic geekery,
I'll take you on a virtual stroll through the varieties we trialed. 

ARTICHOKE types (soft-neck, generally milder):
We trialed Ail de Pays Parne, Beekeeper's Sicilian, Inchelium Red, and Polish White.
(Of the four, Beekeeper's Sicilian did the best, and I might consider trying it another season.)

Ails de Pays Parne was a definite disappointment.  
I planted 1/4 lb and harvested 1/4 lb.  
(That's actually the entire harvest right there in the photo! - geez!)
'Nuff said.
Despite it's lovely French provenance, we won't be growing this one again anytime soon.

Beekeeper's Sicilian, was the best yield of the 4.   
To the right you'll see some bulbils -- they grew on the lower portion of the stalks.  
Some people plant them, but we'll probably just cook with them or pickle them. 
Honestly, if it weren't for the name or the provenance, 
I probably wouldn't bother with this one again.

An abyssmal yield of Inchelium Red, even though it was from local farm stock.

Polish White
Polish white was rather lackluster.  
I planted 8 oz and harvested 12 oz. 

So much for artichoke types!

ASIATIC types:
We trialed Sakura and Singing Falls.

Sakura was more like Sad-kura for us.
Abyssmal yield, and very small cloves.

Singing Falls performed better, but yield was still very low, with relatively small cloves.
I planted 1/2 lb and harvested just over 3/4 of a lb...!
(A good yield would be 4-5x of the weight planted!, so 2+ lbs would have been nice!)

So, Singing Falls doesn't make much sense for us to grow, either...
It's too bad because I love the name and I love the story behind it.
It's no great surprise that Asiatic strains would not thrive here in the Northeast, though.
I should let this one go, too.

CREOLE types 
(originated in the Basque region...they're supposed to store very well and have superb flavor!)
We trialed just one this year, Rose du Lautrec.
We haven't tasted it yet, but it is a knock-out gorgeous garlic.

The bulbs we grew out ended up being rather unusual - 
many of them cleaved and had a clove or two piggy-backing on one or both sides.  
Maybe that had more to do with our soil than the garlic -- who knows.

We'll definitely try this one again next year.

I did a little research and there's a whole big deal about this pink garlic in France.
If you're a true garlic geek, check out the link here to learn more.
There's even a for-real Brotherhood of the Pink Garlic, the Confr√©rie de l’Ail Rose de Lautrec!
 (Basically, a bunch of dudes in colorful robes and hats extolling the amazingness of this garlic
and protecting it's place in their cultural and culinary history)

Now that I've researched it more, next year
 I'll try to follow all of the preparations that the French traditionally do,
including the drying and cleaning processes and 
their method of scraping the skin back to the last layer to highlight the pink color.
I will baby ma petite rose a little bit more, and see if that helps.

Maybe someday they'll expand the Brotherhood of Pink Garlic 
to include a Sisterhood of Pink Garlic,
but then again, one has to grow it in the Lautrec region, 
because it's protected by an IGP (Protected Geographical Indication - 
like true champagne has to come from the Champagne region, etc.)
So unless we up and move to the medieval region of Lautrec, 
I guess I'd be disqualified from the Sisterhood no matter what.


 Onto another type of garlic.

 GLAZED types (hard-neck) 
(fyi: glazed, marbled, and purple striped varieties 
are supposed to be the most amazing for ROASTING....yum!)

We trialed just one glazed type, Purple Glazer.

I found Purple Glazer to be really lovely.

The cloves were a decent size and the yield was fair.
We might give this one another go.

Marbled (a hard-neck type) 

 Of the marbled types, we trialed Russian Giant.

Okay yield.  Decent cloves, but certainly not giant.  
Overall, nothing that made me go WOW.
Other people get a true giant out of it, but maybe my neglect stunted it.

Porcelains (a hard-neck type)
FYI, porcelains reportedly have the highest concentration of allicin,
the sulfuric / therapeutic component of garlic, so they're worth growing for that alone.

We trialed Music.

 Woah baby! 
Music's amazing cloves really hit a high note! (har har!)
And the yield was really great (about 1.5 lbs!) considering I only planted two bulbs worth,
that isn't too shabby at all!

Purple-Striped ( a hard-neck type)
We trialed Chesnok Red, which also had a similar yield to Music.

I didn't break any of these apart, 
but it looks like the cloves are a good size and they should store well.

 (a hard-neck type, often prized for their robust flavor)

We trialed Carpathian and Russian Red.
Carpathian was so-so.  
I planted half a pound, and got about a pound in yield.

 Russian Red was almost identical in yield.
But the larger heads split, so they probably won't keep as well.
The smaller heads stayed encapsulated better.
Decent clove sizes, though.

(a soft-neck type, widely grown for size / mild flavor / storage ability)

We trialed Nootka Rose.
Compared to pictures I've seen of Nootka Rose, 
ours ended up being very sorry representations of the type.
Normally they're stark white and nearly fist-sized.  
Ours were yellowed and puny. 

Oy vell... Bye-Bye Little Nootka. 


We also trialed an unclassified garlic, called Ver Veist (e.g. Yiddish for "Who Knows?") 
We started with small cloves and they definitely didn't grow out any better.


But last of all,
was best of all,
Wendy's Wonder!

 The cloves on Wendy's garlic are almost unreal.
Bigger than Music overall, but some are comparable.
It makes me wonder actually if Wendy's garlic is related to or derived from Music...
They have a lot in common, making me suspect that Wendy's is a porcelain type.


So, at the end of the day, this is what I'm taking away from our latest adventure with garlic:

- plant as much Wendy's Wonder as possible! 
- give Music, Chesnok Red, and Purple Glazer another fair shot.
- keep trying with Rose du Lautrec, but tend to it better


Unfortunately, our shallot harvest was a complete and total bust.
As in, crop failure.  
I have no idea why.  
They were doing well and then, nothing.  
Dead as a door nail.

There's always next year to try again!


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