Garden Spaces: Grow These Plants in your Garlic Garden

October/November 2011
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Illustration by Gayle Ford

Plant a plot full of kissin’ cousins from the garlic family.

Lemon verbena (Aloysia triphylla). A tender perennial that’s worth protecting through the winter, lemon verbena has a lovely lemon flavor that pairs beautifully with garlic for seafood, vegetables and many other dishes.

Society garlic (Tulbaghia violacea). This ornamental tender perennial, in the garlic family, has the garlic scent in its leaves and roots but lovely and sweet-smelling, light purple flowers. It can be grown in mild climates but won’t tolerate more than light frosts.

Garlic (Allium sativum). Many varieties are available, some large white-skinned varieties, some with pink or purplish skin. Rocambole (A. sativum var. ophioscorodon) is a hardneck variety, which has a scape—a dramatic coiling flower stalk. ‘Silverskin’ is a softneck variety, which lacks a scape and is easier to grow. Plant garlic cloves about 6 inches apart.

Greek oregano (Origanum hirtum or O. heracleoticum). Any dish with oregano will also be enhanced by garlic. Start with a transplant that has a good “pizza” flavor; rub the leaf and smell it to find one you like. Hardy and perennial.

Onions (A. cepa). Usually planted from sets, placed about 4 inches apart; can be grown from seed started in the fall. Plant them shallowly, in the top inch or so of soil. And plant lots, as many store well. In Southern climates, plant short-day varieties (which begin bulbing at 10 to 12 hours of daylight); in the North, choose long-day varieties (bulbing at 14 to 16 hours of daylight). Any onions you plant can be harvested young as scallions.

Elephant garlic (A. ampeloprasum). This plant features large heads with four to six cloves per head and a mild flavor. Plant the cloves about 12 inches apart.

Shallots (A. cepa var. aggregatum). Shallots have a flavor midway between onions and garlic. They form clusters of small bulbs. Plant about 6 inches apart.

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis). This perennial is worth a little extra protection because it’s a classic pairing with garlic. Grow this in a pot in harsh winter climates.

Basil (Ocimum basilicum). Add basil to garlic and a few other things and, presto—pesto. Plant this annual after your frost-free date, as it’s susceptible to any hint of frost. Harvest regularly to encourage leafy growth and delay flowering. 

Thyme (Thymus spp.). Many species and varieties are wonderful in the kitchen when prepared with garlic, including the lemon thymes. Low-growing, hardy, perennial, and easy to tuck into garden nooks. 

Garlic chives (A. tuberosum), also called Chinese chives. This is a flat-leaved, annual relative of chives, with a more garlicky flavor in both the leaves and white flowers.

Chives (A. schoenoprasum). Nice onion flavor in these green, hollow-tubed leaves, and in the pink pompon flowers. Perennial chives form clumps and will seed themselves around the garden, but not usually in a troublesome way.

Parsley (Petroselinum crispum). This herb, usually biennial, is a flavor enhancer and helps blend flavors. Curly leaf and Italian flat-leaf varieties are available as transplants.

Leeks (A. ampeloprasum var. porrum). Leeks have a classic, mild flavor and look like overgrown scallions. Plant them about 6 inches apart. They can be planted in 6-inch furrows, with soil gradually heaped over the white shafts as they grow. Harvest when stems are about 1 inch. Not pictured.


Contributing Editor Kathleen Halloran lives in beautiful Austin, Texas. 

Click here for the main article, Garden Spaces: Grow a Garlic Garden.