I have finally completed planting out my garlic for harvest next year. I am a bit late (mid-late October would have been better for my zone), but stuff happens. At least it is done, and since I over-ordered the Spanish Rioja, I have the additional satisfaction of spreading the affliction to three other gardeners by giving them free garlic to plant.
In the picture above, you can see the 4x4 bed that was used to grow bush beans this year. It was prepared for the garlic by adding a bag of lobster compost along with a granular organic vegetable fertilizer and some bone meal. Three rows have already been planted and you can see the spacing I am using. Each square foot of the row is marked out and I have spaced 9 cloves of Rosso di Sulmona garlic per square in a 3x3 grid. That gives a 4” spacing between plants.
Last year was my first year for garlic and I planted two hardneck varieties, German Extra Hardy and Chesnok Red. I got a good harvest and set aside some bulbs for planting this fall. The Chesnok Red has held fine and is a great garlic. I am a bit concerned about the German Extra Hardy. Four months from harvest and the bulbs have started to soften and some of the cloves have turned brown, and some are even moldy. From the bulbs I set aside for planting, I only got enough sound cloves to plant three squares. This may be the last year for that variety for me, since there are far too many varieties to try and not enough time for me to settle for mediocre results.
This year I wanted to add another variety, probably Spanish Rioja. While shopping around I encountered and became enamored of Viola Francese, a softneck popular in the south of France and in Italy, so I ordered a quarter pound. Then I encountered Rosso di Sulmona, touted as the best tasting garlic in the universe, and I also had to have some of that. Eventually I got back to thinking about Spanish Rioja. Many sources were now sold out, but I found it at High Mowing Seeds and (accidentally) ordered a full pound. So this year I am planting five varieties of garlic. Here are the new varieties this year:
Viola Francese above (purchased from Cook’s Garden) is a softneck artichoke variety.The bulbs were very large and so were the individual cloves. The “viola” apparently comes from the violet stripes on the skin, since the individual cloves are an orange-brown color with just a flush of violet. Two bulbs to a quarter pound planted 4 squares.
The beautiful garlic above is Rosso di Sulmona (imported from Italy by Seeds of Italy). I believe it is a hardneck but I have seen it described as a softneck. The garlic I received had a single row of cloves around a central stem, which seems to be a hardneck. Cloves were very large, with 6-7 per bulb. I planted 5 squares of it and hope it lives up to the hype.
Finally, the garlic above is Spanish Rioja, another hardneck variety. The bulb has a white skin and the cloves are brown with a rose colored blush. Cloves were very large, 6-7 per bulb. Since I over-ordered, I planted 6 squares of this garlic, and gave bulbs to three other gardeners to try their hand at growing garlic. Everything is now planted, fertilized and mulched and I am done with the garden for this year, except for a few turnips and escarole holding in the garden.