Garlic


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Day lily petal hailed to the ground

Yesterday I returned home just after a hail had passed. It was larger hail than I normally get, and a lot of them. I grabbed the camera, the injured day lily petal was beautifully resting in the hails.

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Garlic and hail

The garlic suffered no damage to the leaves. Just had a winterly look 🙂

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Artichoke leaf with hail damage

The large artichoke leaves got a lot of holes in them. Still, I don’t expect it’ll influence the harvest.

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Lettuce with hail damage

The lettuce probably had the worst damage to their fragile leaves. Plants are still young, and new leaved will grow perfect. Slugs are a greater threat to them.

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Melon seedling and hail

I’m most troubled by the few melon seedlings. I sowed the melons on 5th. of June, with a perfect warm and sunny weather forecast. The forecast was wrong, weather cold, and indoor we had to heat the house and dress warmly. The very few seedling I found cuddled with ice balls! If I harvest any outdoor melons this year, it’s a small miracle. And if they have useful seeds, my melon breeding work is doing better than I could hope for. Probably just a dream.

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Spruce and hail

Decorative they were, the hails by the sheared Norway spruce.
All in all a great experience of weather and garden.


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Garlic (Allium sativum) Estonian Red (Estisk rød) stored under the eaves since harvest

I have always kept my garlics at room temperature after they were harvested and dried out. It works fine for me. Now I’ve seen that garlic can be stored under very different circumstances with equally good results. Ida and Finn on Zealand has successfully retained their garlic under the eaves all winter.

It is said that garlic sprouts particularly rapidly at temperatures between 4C and 10C, and root sprouts at high humidity. And I think it is true, just perhaps a little more complex.
Maybe garlic is sensitive to fluctuations in temperature and humidity in the air, so it inhibits sprouting. If garlic was beneath the earth where it makes sense to sprout, conditions would be much more stable. A garlic in nature ending up on a stone, has a better chance to survive if the sprouting process may be delayed until wind, water or an animal relocate it onto some soil. This is of course pure speculation, but without the speculation we do not get ideas for new practice we can try out.

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Root end swelling on garlic

The bulbs are large, I have not seen any garlic clone growing larger in Denmark than Estonian red. In the picture you can see how the root end of the cloves have swelled due to roots preparing to grow out, although slowly. Ida says that there are tiny green sprouts in the cloves a this point. At this time of year the quality compares store bought garlic. Throughout autumn and winter the quality is superior. Home grown garlic tastes great! Eating raw garlic this becomes very clear.

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Garlic Estonian Red (Estisk rød)

Estonian Red has few but very large cloves easy to peel. No wonder it is popular among those who have tried it in Danish kitchen gardens.

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Leek moth (Acrolepiopsis assectella) in garlic (Allium sativum)

This season the leek moth have again visited the garden. Last year it lived in the leek as supposed to, but this year it has developed a taste for garlic. I’m the first to understand. I’ve only found one affected garlic, but the largest specimen. It bored in to the flowerstalk, lived a live in luxury in there. I didn’t notice any serious signs until after harvest, when curing the garlic. It took on a tan color and an unpleasant odeour, not at all like garlic should smell. I had to check it out – guess the photo show my findings better than I can describe.

Next year the leek moth will be back. They only fly short distances. Can I keep the number down in my garden by being on the watch out for the first signs of leek moth, cut out the small garlic consuming beast – I might actually keep their numbers at a minimum. Nobody feeds them in the neighboring gardens by growing alliums.

Hvidløgskonkurrence 2009
Frøsamlerne (Danish Seed Savers) garlic competition (Coffebreak) (Copyright Lars Jacobsen 2009)

This year Frøsamlerne, The Danish Seed Savers had a garlic competition. It inspired the ecological website Havenyt to make a similar webbased contest. It’s in danish, but photos, and Estonian Red (Estisk rød) rules the show!
You could consider a google translation.

Frøsamlerne held our competiton in the allotments of Kirsten and Anne. They served coffee, teas and cake, had chairs for everyone to sit comfortably. We started with a presentation of our selves and our garlics. Many interesting point on soil and growing technique surfaced. One point that seems to persist is that garlic love a soil rich in organic matter, and seems to prefer sandy soils to heavy clay.

Several reported of leek moth in some of their garlics. I personally had to leave my biggest garlic, a ‘Gazebo Grande’ at home, as it had aquired a petty brownish color, looking weird. We had a laugh, as I was not the only one claiming to have lost the biggest garlic to a leek moth caterpillar!
As I opened my Gazebo Grande, I did indeed fint the caterpillar inside.

Appearently nobody had been really troubled by garlic rust this year, as it mostly came just few days ahead of harvest, thus had no influence on the garlic quality.

Four classes in the Garlic Competition

Biggest garlic won by an ‘Estonian Red’, grown by Lila Towle

Whitest garlic won by a “Grethes Supermarked” grown by Kirsten Hedegaard

Darkest purple garlic won by a ‘Chinese Purple’ grown by Kirsten Hedegaard

Most beautiful garlic braid won by an ‘Inchelium Red’ braid grown and braided by Søren Holt

Out of competition there was also a prize for the great eyecatching Allium ampeloprasums grown by Lars Jacobsen.

Biggest garlic was judged by weighing. The other classes was a bit more difficult.
The whitest garlic was clearly “Grethes Supermarked”, but there was two presenting this variety. Everybody agreed the had the same color. It was then decided, that the one with the largest area would be the whitest!
The darkest purple was difficult to judge, and we never agreed on it. It’s a class, where many clones have a chance to win, depending on a careful harvest and curing technique.
Most beautiful garlic braid, what is beautiful? There was a traditional braid, not very well braided, and an unusual bunch tied together in a creative and free spirited manner.

The Allium ampeloprasum Lars had brought was of three types. Babingtons leek many of us readily recognized, with its two cloves and large bulbils. He also brought Elephant Garlic, with more cloves and no bulbils. The last type he had from Nysted, having two huge cloves.

Thanks to Kirsten and Anne.

Merete from “Vild med have” also blogged about our garlic competition (In danish)

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Garlic (Allium sativum) Estonian Red, tearing off roots

There are many ways to treat your garlics after harvest. You can simply shake off some of the dirt, leave it to cure on the ground for days – weeks, you can clean them with a hose, wash them in a bucket ect.
In a book I read how to gently shake off the dirt, cure the garlics for weeks, then trim the roots and clean the garlic with an old toothbrush and cutting the stem.
My dilemma; on one hand I’m too lazy to clean garlics with an old toothbrush, but on the other hand the chef in the kitchen dislike dirty vegetables. Also I won’t take the risk of transmitting stem-and bulb nematodes by washing the garlics in a bucket, and I’m too parsimonious to hose them clean in precious tapwater.
My choice is the leek method, tearing off the roots and one outer leave.

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Tearing off one green leave

With this method timing of harvest is essential. Cloves grow in the leaf axils of the inner two or more leaves (most fertile leaves in softneck garlics) – you have to learn your garlic clone. Harvest when there is still at least one green leaf more than the fertile leaves.

Roots I tear off, as I imagine how cutting with a knife or scissor make a larger contact surface for infectants than tearing off by hand.

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Around the garlic bulb the leaf split

The leaf split when reaching the bulb. Each part of the leaf I tear down, the rutine comes quickly.

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1-2-3 a clean garlic

In no time I hold a clean garlic in my hand, thus can supply a happy chef in the kitchen.

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I always tag the clone

An important detail: Handling several clones demand tagging. It’s terribly annoying having mixed up the garlic clones.

To ensure healthy garlic sets, I put the garlic bulbs in order of size before I start cleaning. I start cleaning the biggest, as I will set them again in the autumn. It reduces the risk of transferring diseases to my garlic sets. Cleaning several varieties I wash my hands in between, again in order not to spread infections.

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Garlic (Allium sativum) Persian Star

Last year I left a single garlic Persian Star unharvested, trying if I could harvest true seeds of garlic. Since then it has been in its summer rest, awakened for autumn root growth, grown leaves in the winter, to grow a little close group af small garlic plants. Today the group was ready to harvest, and for comparison I harvested a normal Persian Star, which could have increased in size for yet another week.

Years back I tried to let garlic grow undisturbed for many years. I experienced how they decreased in size year by year, until they vanished completely. For this reason I believe the summer rest, where the garlic is harvested and cured, is essential for its vigor. It’s known from tulips, of which only few varieties grow well year after year in danish gardens, unless they are lifted, cured and set again every year.

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Garlic Allium sativum. Left 2 virus infected, right 2 stemnematode infected

Yesterday I went to the garlic bed to pick some springgarlic and keep the clones healthy. I’m both alerted by yellowstriped leaves as sign of virusinfection, and by twisted and thickened leaves on plants probably infected by stem nematodes.

Those infected by stem nematodes have lost the juicyness, not worth eating. Those infected with virus are good food. They were cleaned, cut and prepared in the wok. Virus in garlic is harmless to humans.

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Yellow stipes in garlic leaves, a sign of virus

Propagating plants vegetatively allways makes virus an issue. Clones accumulates vira over time, and garlic are very old clones. But not all clones are infected the same day, thus taking away the infected and propagating the healthy is a good practice in any garlic bed. As many of the plants can be used in the kitchen, loss is limited.

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