The garlic has been harvested, cured, cleaned, and is ready to review. This was the best garlic harvest since 2010. All this garlic except the Elephant garlic was bought from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. The Elephant garlic is descended from the original Elephant garlic I got back in 2009 from Seed Savers Exchange. All the garlic was planted on October 5, 2013 in a raised bed in the front garden and mulched with grass clippings.
I harvested my elephant garlic too late. It's tricky to tell when to harvest garlic. Too early, and the bulbs haven't divided into cloves yet. Too late, and the cloves fall apart once the bulbs dry out. As you can see from this picture, a lot of my elephant garlic fell apart. It's not a huge deal, but they don't last as long this way.
I don't think elephant garlic is as mild as some people make it out to be, but it's true that it doesn't give me the garlic breath that true garlic does.
This was the best variety of garlic I grew this year. It had the biggest bulbs of any of the true garlics I grew (that is, aside from the elephant garlic). Lorz Italian is an artichoke type of softneck garlic, and those seem to be the best garlics for my region (though I haven't given Asiatcs, Turbans, or Creoles a good try yet, since they're a lot harder to find). I haven't tasted this garlic yet, but the various catalogs describe it as strongly flavored. I'm just impressed by how vigorous the plants were and the nice hefty bulbs I ended up harvesting. Definitely growing again!
This is another artichoke variety. I first planted this variety in 2010 (though it was listed under the name Tochliavri), and it did OK but not great. I gave it another chance this year, and again, OK but not great. The bulbs are usable, but much smaller on average (maybe around half the size) of Lorz Italian. Gourmet Garlic Gardens describes it as having a mild flavor, but I haven't done any side-by-side taste comparisons of my garlics (at least not yet). Will grow again, but if it doesn't start to adapt and improve with some bigger bulbs next year, I may discontinue it and concentrate on some other artichoke varieties.
This is the first silverskin I've ever grown. Silverskins are another sub-type of softneck garlic, but they're supposed to store much longer than artichokes. They're also supposed to be the last to mature, but I harvested these first, and they were ready. The bulbs turned out to be small like Red Toch. I'll have to see if it really does end up storing longer than the other varieties. Growing different varieties of garlic is a good idea so you can have different harvest and storage times. I wanted to add silverskins to my repertoire specifically for their storage abilities. I'll grow S&H again, but will try some more silverskin varieties in the future to see if any do better than this one.
In summary, Elephant garlic needs to be harvested in early May, and Lorz Italian is a keeper. Red Toch might not be worth it. S&H Silverskin might be worth growing, but other silverskins might be better.
I will grow all these varieties again next time, but have ordered Nootka Rose (a silverskin) and Inchelium Red (an artichoke) from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange for this fall. Not sure yet if I want to order more new varieties besides those.
All in all, this was a good harvest. Even though a lot of the bulbs were small, they're still usable, and I shouldn't have to buy any garlic at the grocery store again for a long time.