There are two distinct types of garlic. Hardnecks and Softnecks. The hardnecks were the originals, derived from their wild predeccessors. The softnecks have developed over the years through a process of breeding hardneck varieties, selecting the ones that have softneck traits (no scapes, several small cloves per head, and mature more quickly) replanting those, and gradually moving towards a softneck variety.
All garlic is classified as Allium Sativum. From there there, the two subclasses are – Hardneck, (Ophioscorodon, Ophios for short) and Softneck (Sativum).
As of 2003, the consensus is that there are 10 distinct varieties of garlic. 5 disctinctly hardneck, 3 ambiguous hardnecks that often produce softneck kin, and 2 varieties of softneck. (Listed below)
This story was first told by Bob Anderson of Gourmet Garlic Gardens.
As the story goes, every single garlic cultivar (there are hundreds) evolved from the ten varieties listed above. And all of the 10 came from the Caucasus Mountains between the black sea and the Caspian sea.
Over time, each cultivar has developed their unique characteristics by encountering different growing conditions including:
Length and severity of winter
Arrival in the US
Up until 1989, the majority of the garlic in the world resided in Europe and specifically originated from the Caucasus mountain range
which divides modern day Russia and Georgia.
When the scant few varieties did make it into the United States, they usually came via Polish, German, and Italian immigrants.
The USDA knew that there was a treasure trove full of garlic varieties waiting for them in the Caucusus Mountains. They consistently asked the Soviets for permission to come get some. But, as it turns out, along with harboring the worlds most prized garlics, the Caucusus Mountains, were also home to a few of Russia’s missile bases and their spaceport. Not exactly a place that our good Soviet friends were keen on letting us “come get some garlic.”
In 1989, as the Soviet Union disintegrated, the USDA was finally invited to collect the garlic varieties. So off our government agents went, along with an armed Soviet convoy to get the prized garlic. Only allowed to travel at night (to keep from seeing military secrets, or the lack thereof), they went from village to village along the Silk Road. In each village they purchased every variety they could find and subsequently named many of them based on the village they were purchased.
Upon arriving to the US, armed to the teeth with their precious garlic, our USDA heroes worked a deal with a handful of growers to grow out these new varieties. The basic gist of the deal was, the growers would grow out a field and split the bounty with the USDA.
Over the next few years, the growers continued to replant their varieties and traded amongst each other. And this way, slowly but surely, the North American supply of garlic has grown.
25 years later, we still have a shortage in the garlic market. Many of the garlic growers will not accept any orders until after their garlic is harvested, cured, and ready for sale in late August. When they finally do open their doors to sell their garlic, it is not uncommon to sell out within two weeks, and a few even sell out under 48 hours!
If you’re interested in buying some seed garlic this season, check out what our growers have before they sell out.
Plums themselves date back to the age of the Roman Empire where an abundance of 300 different varieties were grown. Meanwhile, in China, and then later Japan, plums were growing in popularity.
In the late 1800s plums started making their way into the US from both the eastern and western seaboard.
This beauty of a plum, is a descendant of the asian plums.
A descendant yes, but it took a bit of plant breeding mastery to produce this masterpiece.
Enter, the master himself, Luther Burbank.
A brief background on this superhero of a plant breeder. During his life (1849-1926) Burbank developed more than 800 varieties of plants, including 113 varieties of prunes and plums, 10 berry varieties, 50 varieties of lilies, and of course the Freestone peach. Soon, I’ll write up a profile on Luther Burbank, because he is kind of, (no kind of about it) my idol.
Back to our treasure of a plum.
The exact lineage is unclear. As it’s known now, the Santa Rosa Plum tree has roots from wild plums in Japan (which originally came from China). It is said to have been a “complex hybrid” that Burbank developed. If any of you reading this, know more about the parents involved, I would love to know more, and share it with the rest of you.
Soon after Burbank developed this variety, it became a huge favorite, and quickly spread throughout the country.
The name came from it’s origin in Santa Rosa, California. A place that Burbank himself declared “God’s gift to fruit growers.”
The key traits that Burbank sought out, and consequently, everyone fell in love with are:
Resistant to disease
Keeps a long shelf life
About the fruit
This is one of the most popular varieties of plum that you’ll see growing in backyards and available for purchase from farmer’s market growers. People love it because of it’s sweet, juicy flesh, and its versatility in eating right off the tree, or harvesting a few days early to be baked or canned.
Popular uses include: jams, jellies, preserves, puddings, and sauces. What’s yours?
I have a tree at my place and can’t help eating less than five every time I visit the tree. They just taste like summer. So good.
The Santa Rosa Plum tree grows well in the USDA Hardiness Zones 5 to 9 where hard frosts are not a big threat. It usually reaches a size of about a 12 foot globe.
During the winter, it needs about 400 chill hours (temps around 45 degrees or lower) and works well as a pollinator of others in the flowering period (usually late May) because it produces an abundance of wonderfully fragrant pollen.
In the third to fifth year, the tree starts bearing fruit, and that’s when the fun begins!
Specific Growing Hints
Santa Rosa plum trees love to be rooted in well-drained soil, and bask in full sun. Just like most of the other Japanese plums, these require another suitable plum tree to pollinate it and set fruit. I personally don’t know if it needs to be another Japanese Plum tree to pollinate it, or if it just needs to be a plum. If you’re curious, let me know in the comments below and I’ll figure it out for you.
If you’re ready to bring a Santa Rosa Plum Tree into your life, click the link below to buy a tree from one of our growers on SeedWise.
A simple guide of what to get planted in the summer for your fall/winter garden if you live in the Pacific Northwest. You can also use this guide if you live anywhere else, just keep in mind this is tailored to a winter that doesn’t get colder than 20F.
Season extenders are your best friend for the fall and winter garden.
What exactly is a season extender?
Simply put, it’s a method of protecting your crops from the colder, wetter weather.
A couple common Season Extenders:
If you have the space, low tunnels, are often the cheapest and easiest ways to keep your crops through the winter.
Here’s a quick video explaining everything you need to know about setting up a low tunnel.
Explanation of Hoop Houses/Low Tunnels
Crops to Plant in your Winter Vegetable Garden
Definitions for the guide below:
Direct Seed – Plant the seed directly into the soil.
Transplant – Plant the seed first in a seeding tray, water and grow it for 2-4 weeks, then transplant it into your garden.
Crop Name (Planting Date, Planting Method)
Recommended Varieties: The varieties that do best through the winter
Do you know who’s responsible for bringing Russian Red garlic to the Pacific Northwest? I’ll give you two hints:
Hint #1 – It’s a big country that you can see from Alaska.
Hint #2- It’s Russia.
Did you figure it out yet? Yup, your gut, and reading skills, have brought you to the right answer once again.
In the early 1900s Russian Doukhobor immigrants, in their (successful) effort to escape the tyranical and oppressive Czarist Government, brought Russian Red along with them to the Pacific Northwest, more specifically, British Columbia. In fact, the Canadian government was very welcoming to the Doukhobors, to the point of granting them land that is now Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Nobody knows if the Russian Red Garlic “sweetened” the deal for the Canadian governmet, but it sure is fun to imagine that they were going to turn Russian emigrants away until they were offered a handful of Russian Red garlic.
No. No, that most certainly did not happen.
Anyways, I think “Red Russian” is an ill-fitting name. Primarily because the people who brought it to North America, were trying to escape Russia, rather than promote it. The least, the namers of this variety could have done, was name it Doukhobor Red. I suppose that doesn’t quite have the alliteration we’ve all come to love in our titles. So how about? Doukhobor Damascena? No? Allright, Russian Red it is.
BUT! At least you know that the Doukhbors brought us this time-tested champion of a garlic variety.
Since the early 1900s, Russian Red has flourished as a commercial variety, especially by Canadian growers because of its success growing in colder winters. And, of course, no garlic could have thrived for so many decades without its dependable delicousness (appreciate the alliteration?) on the dinner table.
5-8 cloves per bulb
Less white than other hardneck varieties. Some may exclaim, “give that poor garlic a bath, post haste!” No, it’s not dirty, the wrapper is just a bit browner tinted. That’s all. While it is one of the… uglier garlics in the world, the toothsome taste will make all memories of its appearance fade away. Truly. Don’t turn this garlic away just because it may look like it needs a wash.
Zones – 3-8
Depth – 4 in.
Spacing – 6 in.
Light – Full Sun
Plant in the fall, and harvest mid-late summer the following year
Russian Red Garlic likes a colder winter and colder spring. Again, many canadian growers love Russian Red for it’s ability to withstand the wet, soggy, winters.
Don’t grow Russian Red if you experience warm winters. What exactly is a warm winter? Just ask your uncle who plays golf in Fort Lauderdale from November to March every year. As a general rule of thumb, if you’re walking around in flip flops in February, grow a different variety of garlic best suited for warm winters.
The flavor is the big winner here.
It starts strong and finishes with a warm, sweet aftertaste.
The depth of the flavor is truly remarkable. A heat that won’t send you packing, but forever keep you snacking… that’s bad. But true. From me to you.
If you’re ready start growing these seeds, click the link below to see the different growers offering Russian Red here on SeedWise.
It”s resilience and low-maintenance make it an easy win for beginning gardeners.
Creole garlic varieties are hardy and smaller than other varieties of garlic. They grow best in the warmer climates of the Southern US and in the southern parts of Europe. Ajo Rojo is among the rare Creole varieties of garlic native to Spain and Europe where it was cultivated for centuries.
In the early 1990’s G. Lutovsky brought Ajo Rojo to Nevada from Spain. (I’m still trying to figure out more details about both G. Lutovsky and Ajo’s origins in Spain. If you have any leads, please let me know in the comments below.)
In southern parts of the US, Ajo Rojo is known as Mexican Purple. I don’t know where the name originated, but it does have a beautiful deep purple to it that you can see in the photos.
Ajo Rojo is a beautiful and distinctive garlic with red/burgundy clove wrappers and good storage. It sizes up nicely in warmer growing areas with many bulbs reaching 2″ diameter. A Vigorous root system and late harvest make for incredibly rich flavor.
Ajo Rojo garlic is a Creole variety of Allium sativum. Ajo is Spanish for garlic and Rojo means red. Ajo Rojo is considered a hardneck variety, yet it is genetically distinct from both hardneck and softneck varieties. Hardneck garlic has a woody, hard neck “scape” or flower stem growing in the center stem and grows well in colder climates, whereas softneck garlic grows best in warmer climates and has no flower stalk.
The size of a bulb of Ajo Rojo garlic is generally dependent on the climate, but a healthy bulb will grow to about two inches in diameter. The outer skin of the Ajo Rojo bulb is often called “silky” for its look and feel. Aside from that, the bulb has a very typical garlic look on the outside; it’s the individual cloves that reveal the signature “Rojo” or red color. There are typically eight to twelve cloves per bulb. The cloves of the Ajo Rojo garlic have a pungent aroma with a sweet taste and a warm, spicy finish.
The first recorded use of garlic for health benefits dates back to 1500BC Egypt. The active ingredient is allicin, which is released when the garlic is crushed or chopped. Aside from repelling vampires, garlic has anti-biotic properties and will help to build your immune system. Ajo Rojo’s red coloring is caused by anthocyanins, which are phytochemicals known to increase its antioxidant properties.
In Ajo Rojo, the antioxidant properties are even higher due to the presence of anthocyanins, the phytochemicals that produce the red color in the cloves.
Ajo Rojo has two distinct tastes depending on how it’s prepared.
Prepared Raw: It has some serious heat! Teń cuidado señor! It starts subtle and gradually builds to a serious heat that will surprise you.
Baked: It is rich and creamy.
Like a nice wine, over time, the flavor will continue to improve.
Add Ajo Rojo to a variety of dishes that call for garlic. Ajo Rojo garlic retains much of its flavor when cooked. Creole garlics are great for fresh eating; chop and add to salsas or salad dressings. To enhance Creole dishes, finely chop garlic to release its essential oils for a bit more heat. Add sliced garlic to pasta sauce or soups or top pizzas.
Obviously there are limitless uses for this garlic, so let us know your favorite recipes using Ajo Rojo!
Where to buy Ajo Rojo Garlic
Did you know we sell seeds?
Well you’re in luck, here’s a link to Ajo Rojo we have for sale now:
You’re ready to grow your own garlic, but don’t know quite where to begin?
Have no fear, garlic is a very forgiving crop and easy to harvest a bounty to be shared with your friends. Below we’ve outlined the steps to grow, harvest, and store your own garlic, all the while trying to withhold as many of the bad jokes as we could…
I – When to Plant Garlic
The ideal time to plant your garlic is right after the first frost of the fall. Seems weird, I know, but this way your garlic can get established for the long winter ahead.
When planting garlic, instead of planting seed, you’ll plant the actual garlic cloves. This is very similar to planting seed potatoes instead of potato seed.
One more thing to remember about the cloves your plant, the larger the clove, the larger the bulb you’ll harvest.
Planting a garlic clove. (Courtesy of MyLittleCity FoodGarden.com)
To plant your garlic cloves, simply place the clove, rootside down (pointy side up) in the soil 2 inches, cover with soil, and then cover again with at least 6” of mulch. The added mulch will ensure that your crop has adequate moisture, protection from the elements, and a stable temperature to grow in.
II – Choosing a Variety
Now for the fun part! Firstly, I’d say, choose a couple different varieties so you can see the differences in how they grow, their yield, and most importantly, of all, their flavor!
There are two different types of garlic. Hardneck and softneck.
Hardneck are so called because… they have a hard neck!
Hardnecks are the … HARDier of the two. So, they are often more popular with more challenging growing climates of northern latitudes.
While hardnecks generally yield fewer clovers per bulb, the cloves themselves are bigger. Ah, the classic quandry, more versus bigger.
In the hardneck garlic family, there are 9 sub-types to choose from:
These varieties are known for their over the top flavors ranging from inferno-esque heat (Georgian Fire), all the way to the sweetest of the sweet (purple italian).
Soft neck are named because of their soft neck. Pretty simple.
The most notable qualities of softneck garlic are their excellent storing qualities. The bulbs are often larger, with more cloves per bulb than their hardneck counterparts. The necks are soft, and thus, easier for braiding.
Garlic, despite repelling vampires, actually struggles in the battle with weeds. The two big challenges that weeds will present to your garlic is: competing for the nutrients in the soil, and competing for sunlight above the ground. Your mission is to make sure that no weeds starve your garlic of nutrients or sunlight.
So, when you see a few competing weeds, feel free to behead them and use them as mulch. Just make sure they haven’t already gone to seed or are prone to rooting their cuttings, because that will just make more weeds that you’ll have to contend with. If that is the case, you’ll want to hot compost those weeds in order to kill them AND their offspring. If you aren’t setup to hot compost them, go ahead and use them as a mulch somewhere in your yard where it will be ok if you have a bit of “wildness.” The last resort is to put them in the green bin, but we both know your mama raised you better than to waste good organic matter…
IV – Water
It varies variety by variety, but it is common for garlic to desire 1” of water per week. How much is 1” of water you ask? Well, a good rule of thumb is to dig your hand about 4” into the mulch (you remembered to mulch, right?) and at that depth, the soil/mulch should have the moisture of a nice chocolate cake. If it’s drier than that, give it more water. If it’s wetter, ease up on the water, and let your cake bake a little longer.
V – Garlic Scapes
With hardneck garlic, 4-6 weeks before your garlic is mature, scapes will start to appear. These curly-q necks are the flower head forming. Go ahead and give these the Queen Mary treatment. That’s right, cut them off at the base of their scape neck right where they come from off of the plant.
After you’ve gone through and es scaped (har har) all of your hardneck garlic, you’ll have quite a basket of scapes to deal with. Don’t compost those! Let your body compost them! They are delicious. In fact, here’s a list of incredible scape recipes.
You’ll know it’s time to harvest your garlic when you’re bread is properly buttered… no. It’s time to harvest your garlic when the tops begin to yellow and fall over, before they are completely dry.
Harvesting too late – If you wait until the leaves are entirely brown there will be less protection for the bulb.
Harvesting too soon – However, if you’re early to harvest, the cloves will start to separate creating a bulb that won’t store as long.
Harvesting at the right time – The ideal time to harvest is when the lower half of the leaves turn brown and the top leaves are still green. In many northern hemisphere climates, this is around mid-late July.
VII – How to harvest
There are plenty of right ways to harvest, and just one big fat wrong way. Whatever you do, make sure you don’t pull a rookie move and try to harvest by pulling from the above ground stems. You’ll break off the top stem, and expose your garlic top to drying out.
The simplest method is to use a broadfork to get the teeth right underneath the bulbs and loosen the soil. After loosening all of your garlic bulbs, follow back through picking the garlic from the soil and placing them in your tote.
A more sophisticated method that some of our growers use, involves the use of a “cutter” or “lifter.” These tools, often homemade, are dragged behind a tractor in line with the beds and used to loosen the soil, and pop the garlic up. A setup like this is practically essential for anyone harvesting more than 1 acre of garlic.
VIII – How to Dry and Store Garlic
Now that you’ve harvested your goal is to get your garlic dried out completely before it gets wet.. Our garlic seed growers’ scariest time of the season is immediately after they’ve harvested their garlic. If the rain comes and gets their garlic it can ruin their entire crop!
To dry your crop adequately, you’ll want to dry it upside down until it is completely dry. This is often about 2-4 weeks depending on the humidity and presence of a nice dry wind.
Your goal in storing your garlic crop, as well as life… is to just keep it cool. Man.
Well actually, cool isn’t quite enough. You want to keep it:
So, maybe not exactly like life. Unless you’re a bat…
Here are a few different ways that people store their garlic.
X- A Timeline of Growing Garlic
September – November -After your first frost, plant your garlic
Winter – leave it be
Spring – Weed as they come up. The more mulch you have, the less weeding you’ll need to do, and the easier it will be
Spring (Optional)- If you forgot to plant your garlic last september, don’t sweat it, you can still plant your garlic this spring and everything will be ok. The bulbs you harvest will be a bit smaller, but it sure beats no garlic!
Early-mid June – Watch for your garlic scapes. Cut them off and eat those tasty things! (See the recipe links below)
Mid – Late July – Harvest and start curing your garlic crop!
Mid- August – After your garlic is properly cured, store it in a cool, dry place until you’re ready to eat it or share with your friends.
September – November – Plant your favorite garlic bulbs remembering that the size of the clove you plant will be comparable to the size of the bulb you harvest next year.
There you have it, you’re all ready to grow some garlic. Now, it’s time to get some seed directly from one of our growers. Click the link below to choose your variety