As I stand here on my allotment, eager to begin my garlic planting adventure, I can’t help but reflect on the rather challenging summer we’ve experienced, filled with an abundance of rain. The weather has been a topic of conversation amongst fellow gardeners and allotment enthusiasts, and it has undoubtedly impacted our gardening plans. But despite the damp and unpredictable conditions, I’m determined to plant some of the finest garlic varieties that the UK has to offer.
So, with muddy boots and a hopeful heart, I’ll share my journey of planting garlic for autumn and spring varieties in this guide. It’s a testament to the resilience of gardeners and the enduring allure of homegrown garlic, no matter what the British weather throws our way.
While garlic can be broadly categorized into softneck and hardneck types, it’s important to consider planting times to maximize your harvest.
In this guide, we’ll delve into some popular garlic varieties, dividing them into two groups based on planting seasons: autumn and spring.
Autumn Planting Varieties
1. Softneck Varieties:
- Maddock: Maddock garlic is a softneck variety known for its mild, nutty flavour. It’s a reliable and adaptable choice for UK gardeners, particularly in milder climates.
- Rhapsody: Rhapsody garlic produces large, flavorful bulbs with a rich, earthy taste. It’s prized for its easy-to-braid stems and is suitable for both culinary and braiding purposes.
- Provence: Provence garlic is a softneck cultivar with a subtle, sweet flavor. It’s well-suited for roasting, where its mellow taste shines.
2. Hardneck Varieties:
- Extra Early: As the name suggests, Extra Early garlic is one of the first to mature in late spring or early summer. It offers a bold, robust flavour that garlic enthusiasts appreciate.
- Kingsland: Kingsland garlic is a hardneck variety known for its striking purple-streaked wrappers. Its flavour is complex, with spicy and sweet notes, making it a chef’s favourite.
- Carcassonne: Carcassonne garlic produces medium-sized bulbs with a rich, full-bodied flavour. It’s excellent for cooking, particularly in Mediterranean dishes.
- Caulk: Caulk garlic is prized for its large cloves and strong, spicy flavour. It adds a bold kick to various culinary creations.
- Elephant Garlic: While technically not a true garlic, Elephant Garlic produces massive, mild-flavoured bulbs that are perfect for roasting or using as a garlic substitute.
Spring Planting Varieties
1. Spring Planting Softneck Variety:
- Solent Wight: Solent Wight is a softneck garlic suitable for planting in early spring. It produces creamy, medium-sized bulbs with a delicate yet rich, garlic flavour.
2. Spring Planting Hardneck Variety:
- Mersley Wight: Mersley Wight is a hardneck garlic that thrives when planted in the spring. It offers a full-bodied, spicy flavour and is a favourite for those who enjoy a robust garlic taste.
- Picardy Wight: Picardy Wight is another hardneck garlic ideal for spring planting. It yields beautiful bulbs with a rich, well-rounded flavour that enhances various dishes.
- Elephant Garlic: This mild, large-cloved garlic can also be planted in spring for those who prefer a milder garlic taste.
When selecting garlic varieties for your garden, consider your local climate, culinary preferences, and the intended use of your garlic. Experimenting with different varieties can add depth and complexity to your culinary creations while providing the satisfaction of growing your flavorful garlic. Whether you opt for autumn or spring planting, these garlic varieties offer a wide range of tastes and aromas to elevate your dishes.
Brian Sheridan has an allotment in Edgbaston and is a competitive grower. Brian is also a keen photographer and loves cooking. Brian and his wife Mary will also be running a stall at Edgebaston artisan market this year, selling products made from the allotment, including his award-winning relish!