Gourmet Garlic from the Ground Up

Follow these easy steps and discover just how good this nutritional powerhouse can be.

| August/September 2008

  • The bold, strappy foliage of garlic provides a handsome accent in mixed borders and kitchen gardens alike.
    Rob Cardillo

This article is part of our Guide to GarlicClick here for recipes and cooking tips or click here to learn about garlic's health benefits.

Back in the dark ages, when I thought garlic was just garlic (without distinction), I purchased a few heads of the Rocambole cultivar ‘Spanish Roja’ at a local farmers’ market. I discovered a different garlic flavor—rich, sweet and complex—and I knew then that all garlic is not the same.

If supermarket garlic is all you have experienced, you too could be in for quite a revelation. Because of its adaptability throughout many areas of the world, garlic exhibits a wide range of characteristics, with differences in flavor; ease of peeling; cold hardiness; clove number and size; and storage properties.

By growing your own garlic, you can discover your personal favorites and save part of your stock for subsequent plantings—a wonderful ritual of culinary pleasure. You will find that garlic adapts to local growing conditions, often growing better and producing larger bulbs as time goes by.

Garlic is very easy to grow. For detailed information, please see my book, The Complete Book of Garlic (Timber Press, 2008). Use this guide as a starting point:

1. Start with quality stock. Obtain planting stock from a local grower or from a specialty producer of "seed" garlic. Separate the cloves and discard any that look unhealthy. Remember that one clove will produce one bulb at harvest; the biggest cloves will produce the biggest bulbs.

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