Most people know garlic as garlic. It was the same for me, until I discovered there are two types of garlic, softneck garlic and hardneck garlic. Now, planting hardneck garlic in my home garden is one of my favorite fall activities. I prefer planting hardneck garlic for several reasons, one being this variety offers an added bonus – garlic scapes.
What is Hardneck Garlic?
Garlic scapes are long thin stalks produced by the garlic plant once it begins to flower. The scapes are removed and often sold at farmer’s markets. They can be used to make pestos, dips, soup and used in stir fry, among other recipes. Basically the garlic scapes are a milder version of a garlic clove, and incredibly tasty and versatile. I also freeze some so they can be used throughout the year.
The first year I grew garlic in my garden I grew softneck garlic, which is planted in the spring, harvested the same season and does not produce garlic scapes. The garlic tasted fine but I felt like for the price I paid for the cloves I might as well buy hardneck garlic and receive the added bonus of garlic scapes!
Ever since that revelation, I have been a hardcore hardneck garlic planter and connoisseur. Planting hardneck garlic is a part of my fall gardening routine. Today I’m offering a few reasons why I plant hardneck garlic, besides the wonderful garlic scapes that grow on the plant.
Regardless of which variety of garlic you decide to purchase, I highly recommend buying garlic from Botanical Interests. Not only is their garlic organic, but it’s incredibly affordable at only $4 per head! Hurry though, if you are buying for this year, right now is the perfect time to order your hardneck garlic and some varieties are already selling out. Added Note: I have found it extremely difficult to find hardneck garlic locally. It’s really just easier for me to order it online now that I know what varieties I like.
This year I ordered two garlic bulbs from Botanical Interests, for a whopping $8. I’m not sure how much you spend on garlic at the store but this small investment yield me huge returns each year. Each clove yields one garlic plant. In fact this summer I had so much garlic I gave it away to several friends. The remaining garlic I keep stores well for a year or more in our canning closet. You could also store the garlic in a home pantry or any other cool place.
My basic timeline for planting hardneck garlic is that I order the garlic each year in late summer or early fall. I typically plant the hardneck garlic in October, which is the same month I usually put my garden to bed. In 2015, I was experiencing the beginning stages of labor pains and do you know what I did? Ran outside to plant my hardneck garlic before having my baby!
The cloves overwinter and the garlic scapes typically appear in June. I harvest the scapes, preferably, before they become too woody (in the garlic scapes photo above, they were too woody). The scapes should be curly, usually one to two curls, when they are harvested. Then the garlic bulbs themselves are harvested once the leaves on the plants begin to brown and dry. Depending on the weather, this usually happens mid- to late-summer.
5 Reasons to Plant Hardneck Garlic
1) Variety of Flavors – Typically, hardneck garlic offers distinct, interesting flavors. There are many cultivars of hardneck garlic from sweet and strong, to mild and mellow.
2) Reduce Spring Workload – By planting garlic in the fall, I have one less plant to worry about planting in the spring. Let’s be honest, springtime is really busy for gardening! Plus it’s fun to have something to look forward to showing some color in the spring – even if it’s only a little bit of green garlic leaves.
3) Climate – Softneck garlic is traditionally grown in warmer climates. Here in Northeast Ohio we are in zone 5, which experiences a hard frost and long winter. Hardneck garlic is frost-hardy and will survive (and even enjoy) the winter! I recommend adding a little grass or leaf clippings over the beds in late fall to add a little bit of protection to your garlic.
4) Garlic Scapes – As mentioned above, when you plant hardneck garlic you receive the wonderful added bonus of garlic scapes, which can be harvested in early summer and used in cooking to add flavor to meals – or frozen for use during the winter.
5) Deer Resistance – Deer will eat almost everything in my garden, but they have never touched my garlic. Deer do not like strong or bitter tastes. When I plant hardneck garlic, I plant it around the borders of my garden as a natural deer deterrent.
If you are interested in the exact variety of hardneck garlic I purchased this year, head on over to Botanical Interests and check out the Purple Glazer variety. Each bulb costs only $4, offers eight to 10 cloves and will yield the same number of garlic plants! Botanical Interests is also my go-to source for high-quality heirloom and organic seeds.