Last year we grew our first garlic in our garden. It actually wasn’t intentional but the decision settled a dispute so we planted it anyway (more than you wanted to know?) At any rate, this has been one of the most delightful and surprising garden decisions ever, so we want to share some of our new-found knowledge with you.
In Virginia, autumn is the best time to plant garlic…. ideally in October. It’s a perennial that’s harvested the following year, and it likes to get its start in cool weather. There’s a big decision to be made at the outset because there are two kinds of garlic… softneck and hardneck. Softneck varieties do not produce stalks. Instead, they’ve got more of a grassy looking foliage. Hardneck varieties have a somewhat stronger taste than softneck, and hardneck varieties get a stalk (called a “scape” by the garlic in-crowd). On top of those scapes are gorgeous flowers which I’m reminded (by the same garlic in-crowd) are not actually flowers but instead are ‘bubils’. Apparently when these stalks and bubils appear, it is prudent to cut them off because it’s similar to bolting in other plants and can diminish the vigor of the actual garlic bulbs. Adding to the intrigue (think of it as similar to fine wine) … the hundreds of varieties of garlic can also adapt flavors and textures in specific sites.
We made a decision. We liked the scapes and bubils every bit as much as we liked the actual garlic, so we haven’t trimmed them yet. Instead we got to enjoy the gorgeous garden addition that you see in our photo above. And I don’t know if the garlic in-crowd would approve, but we’ve enjoyed snippets from the fronds of the plants which we use just like you’d use the tops of green onions. To us it tastes slightly milder than garlic from the clove, but you can decide for yourself.
If you prefer getting your garlic the natural way… uncultivated… here’s a compelling video clip that will inspire your walk in the woods.