There are ten recognized garlic groups with distinct features. They are Artichoke, Asiatic, Creole, Glazed Purple Stripe, Marbled Purple Stripe, Porcelain, Standard Purple Stripe, Rocambole, Silverskin, and Turban.
Standard Purple Striped, Glazed Purple Striped, and Marbled Purple Striped are usually referred to as sub-groups of the Purple Stripe family, but recent studies have shown that all garlic groups are sub-groups of the Purple Stripes. In other words, all garlic varieties can trace their roots back to the Purple Stripes.
As well, garlic groups and varieties are often referred to as hard necked, soft necked, and weakly bolting garlic types.
Allium Sativum ophioscorodon is the scientific name for the Hardneck garlics. They have a woody stem that grows through the centre of the plant and produces a scape. the scape is topped with an umbel that produces bulbils, which are miniature clones of the parent plant.
The Hardneck group contains Asiatics, Creoles, Glazed Purple Stripes, Marbled Purple Stripes, Standard Purple Stripes, Rocamboles, Porcelains, and Turbans.
Allium Sativum sativum is the scientific name for the Softnecked garlic varieties . They generally do not produce a scape, although they may produce a weak scape if conditions are favourable.
The Softneck group contains the Artichokes and the Silverskins.
While the garlic groups do not formally include a grouping for Weakly Bolting Hardnecks, there are a number of garlic varieties that could be classed as such because the scape produced is small and not robust, or sometimes a scape is not produced at all.
Asiatics, Creoles, Turban's and Silverskins fit into this classification, in our growing area. They may behave differently in other growing conditions
We also have a few varieties that do not fit into the usual groups for a variety of reasons. These are grouped together in the Uncategorized section.
You can find out more about our garlic in the group descriptions below.
There is a wealth of information about garlic available online and in books. Here are a few sources:
Most of the time when you see garlic at the grocery store, it is of the Artichoke garlic group. Grocery retailers like these garlic varieties because of their long storage life. Named thus because the cloves are arranged in layers similar to a true artichoke. Easy to grow, they yield large bulbs. Special attention must be paid to curing them so that excess moisture is not trapped in the bulb. Usually early to harvest, they have a long storage life. Artichoke garlics have 10-15 cloves per bulb. Flavour is mild at harvest, but gets hotter with storage.
Artichoke garlics seldom produce a scape and are suitable for braiding. They should be harvested while the leaves are still mostly green and standing up. Once the top of the plant falls over like an onion, the bulb wrappers are starting to decay in the ground and storage life will be affected.
Asiatic garlic has a wide range of growth habit and colours. In our climate, and with the same fertilizer regimen as all the other garlics, these garlic varieties typically a lighter green colour and are smaller size. The bulb size is good, and they keep well if cured properly.
They produce a scape with a few large bulbils and a elongated beak on the umbel. The scape is short and does not usually curl. The bulbs contain 6-8 cloves on average. The flavours range from mild and sweet to very hot.
Like all garlics they should be harvested while most of the leaves are green and standing, as the bulb wrappers will degrade if left in the ground too long.
Creole garlics originate from Spain and surrounding areas. They like warmer climates, and seem to be adapting well as our summers get warmer. They typically have very attractive pink or red clove wrappers and mostly white bulb wrappers.
The scapes are slender and weak, but will still produce viable bulbils if left to mature. The bulbs can occasionally get into the extra-large size.
Creoles are generally quite flavourful and mild, although there are always exceptions. For example, Rose de Lautrec was originally very mild growing here, but after a hot dry summer here, they were quite hot to taste. Garlic will adapt over time to the region it is grown in, and will present its own regional heat and flavour after a time.
Glazed Purple Stripe garlic varieties are notable for their purple bulb wrappers with a light golden sheen. The cloves are not as elongated as the Standard Purple Stripes, and they generally have fewer cloves. Also, the Glazed Purple Stripes mature a little ahead of the Standard Purple Stripes, and close attention must be paid to harvesting at the right time so that the bulbs do not split.
Overall, a very unique and attractive garlic group.
Because the Glazed Purple Stripes have very thin wrappers they are tolerant of a little higher humidity in storage.
Marbled Purple Stripe garlics are usually tall and sturdy with wide leaves. A few varieties have slender stems and thinner leaves. These garlic varieties produce bulbs can get very large and are somewhat squat, with dappled purple-striped bulb wrappers. The clove wrappers are thick which makes for good storage, but easy to peel. There are usually 6-7 cloves per bulb. They have excellent flavour and taste sweet when sautéed or grilled.
Marbled Purple Stripes are very dependable and generally easy to grow. Care must be taken to not overwater in the later stages of growth as the stems on some varieties can take a little longer to dry.
Purple Stripe garlics are the group from which all other domesticated garlics are descended. They have been cultivated for thousands of years and as they were spread to different parts of Asia and Europe varieties varieties that did well in specific locales arose, hence all the other types of garlic we have today.
They tend tend to emerge fairly early in the spring, with the first leaves laying flat on the ground for a couple of weeks before they stand up .The outer bulb wrappers are generally white, with more purple striping being revealed as the outer wrappers are removed. There a 8-12 cloves with tall elongated cloves wrappers that are brightly coloured with tones of purple. Purple Stripe garlics are generally easy to dry, and store well.
Purple Stripe garlics are a favourite for baking.
Porcelain garlics are tall vigorous plants with wide dark leaves and scapes that can reach 6 feet tall when they uncoil and stand up. The bulb wrappers are generally white with some varieties displaying purple striping or toning. The cloves are large with red to brown wrappers that are tight to the clove.
There are many named garlic varieties of porcelains - some of these may be regional names for the same variety. Porcelains tend to be hot and have lasting flavour, with 4-6 cloves per bulb.
Storage life for Porcelains is good, usually around 7-8 months.
Rocambole garlics are prized for their outstanding flavour which is best enjoyed soon after harvest. They have a stocky stem and wide leaves that tend to sprawl. Rocamboles will often produce 2-3 cloves within 1 clove wrapper, and the cloves often grow so large as to split open the clove wrappers. The clove wrappers are loose and therefore easy to peel , but as a consequence the storage life is short. The usually produce 8-10 cloves per bulb.
Rocamboles will typically store 4-5 months.
Silverskin garlics are similar to Artichoke garlics in how the bulb is formed in layers. They tend to produce weak scapes in our climate and take a little longer to mature, but are well worth the wait.
Silverskins have at least 12-14 cloves per bulb, with tight colourful wrappers and excellent storage life. Even the smaller cloves will produce a usable bulb when planted. Flavour is warm with a lingering taste.
Siverskins are a good choice for making braids.
Turban garlics are the first to emerge in the spring, often two weeks or more before the porcelains or purple stripes. The plant is generally smaller with floppy leaves and a weak scape. Sometimes Turbans may decide to not produce a scape while others in the same bed have scapes. The scapeless plants mature faster than the one with scapes and should be harvested first while the leaves are still standing. They are adaptable to diverse climates and can produce a good sized bulb.
Turban garlic bulbs tend to have strong vertical striping and 6-10 cloves per bulbs. The clove wrappers are usually light tan in colour.
Turbans tend to have an immediate hot taste that overwhelms all thought of flavour. To me, their best attribute is their early maturity that gets them out to market sooner.
They store very well when cured properly and will keep for 6-7 months.
There always has to be someone who does not fit into a defined slot. Sometimes these unique individuals are the shining stars.
Uncategorized garlics are varieties that do not fit well in the recognized categories.
Our favourite garlic is in this group. Tibetan emerges a month later than the other varieties but matures at the same time. It can grow very large ( we had a bulb that was over 7 oz) and is the best keeper of all our garlics. It is hot, and has a great flavour that stays with you for a long time.