Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Choosing Garlic for Late-Fall Planting

If you're going to plant garlic for next year, it's just about the right time to buy your planting stock! There are lots of different types of garlic- I didn't even really think about the different varieties that exist under the larger type categories, let alone the types themselves! In addition to there being hardneck and soft neck types, there are 9 different types (that I know of) of garlic, and a bunch of specific varitieies of each type! There is actually a good list of different types of garlic here: check it out!

I've put together a list of varieties of that I'm interested in planting for next season- overall I'd like to plant about 6 heads of garlic, or roughly 50-75 new heads of garlic.

Artichoke (3)
Lorz Italian
Inchelium Red
Italian Late

Silverskin (1)
Silver White

Porcelain (1)
Romanian Red
Chesnok Red

Rocambole (1)
Spanish Roja

Here in the Ypsilanti/Ann Arbor area, we have several choices for purchasing locally grown garlic- I hope you are as lucky and that you have local growers to choose from as well! 

There are several good options for organically grown garlic from seed companies like Hood River Garlic, Seed Savers Exchange, and Seeds of Change. I like all of these companies, and I often purchase seeds from these companies, but there are several perks to buying local garlic vs. seed company garlic for your planting stock:
  • Local garlic supports a local farmer-
    This one is not a surprise, hopefully, but local growers are often hand-selecting the varieites you are choosing, screening for the best performance. The success of these local growers depends on your business.
  • Local garlic is often cheaper-
    I've seen local garlic at the Farmers' Market that costs between $2 - 2.50 per head for a large size. I averaged out how much garlic from Hood River, Seeds of Change, or Seed Savers Exchange costs, and the answer seems to be about $3.70/head. That's not even including shipping prices!
  • Local garlic is well-suited to your growing region- Because you are purchasing garlic that is grown close to where you live, it's unlikely that you could pick a varitiety that won't perform well in your garden (at least not because of normal climate issues)
  • Greater variety of garlic is available to you- My go-to Garlic family grows 40 + varieties of garlic each year. That's a LOT! Most seed companies I looked at offer 3-10 varieties.
Again, not every grower will specialize in garlic like the Dyer Family does, but if you can find a farm or a farmer that loves garlic as much as you do, I can't think of a single good reason not to run out to your nearest Farmers' Market, Farm Stand, or Farm visiting day and snatch up some of that garlic!

I've grown garlic at home for several years now, and each year, although I'm able to save a heads to plant, I make a point to buy some from local growers too. That way, I can try new garlic types, and do my part to make sure that garlic lovers in my city & county get to by from those local growers for as long as they'd like to sell! Planting occurs around (Hardiness zone 6a) at the end of October-beginning of Novemeber, but it's not too early to start stocking up now! Good luck selecting :)

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