Harvesting Hardneck Rocambole Garlic

IMG_6704I harvested my garlic. I grow hardneck rocambole garlic. I was given a clump of it 15 years ago when I was a member of the local garden club. This year I didn’t even plant it. It volunteered from some garlic bulbs I missed when harvesting last year.

I dug the garlic when it had stopped growing and first sets of outer leaves started to dry out, I shook the worst of the dirt off of it, and set it to dry in the open air. When it had cured for a couple of days, I trimmed off the seed heads, snipped off the bulbs, and added the stalks to my compost bin. I didn’t do anything else to thIMG_6761e bulbs other than rubbing off some extra dirt, leaving the papery outside of the bulbs undisturbed.

You’ll note that I am storing the cured bulbs in my dark, cool pantry in a repurposed strawberry container that already has air holes. Air circulation is important, so the garlic doesn’t get damp and spoil. (I store my shallots the same way.)

The storage life of hardneck garlic is supposed to be shorter than that of the softneck varieties. We use a lot of garlic, so it is not a big concern to me. If I ever had an overabundance, I would load up my trusty dehydrators and move out of the house for a few days!

Since my garlic grew so close together, the bulbs are small. (They still taste wonderful!)IMG_6706 I was going to dig it in the early spring and separate the clumps of plants, but the city found that our water connection at the sidewalk was leaking. They had to dig up the whole area, so I had nowhere to transplant my garlic! (The city has completed their work and replaced the sidewalk, so I will have a place to plant garlic sets this fall.)

IMG_6720 (2)The other reason for the garlic bulbs’ small size was that I letIMG_6716 the scapes (flower heads) bloom and mature into sets. I saved the sets when I harvested the garlic bulbs, so if any of you folks reading this are family, friends, or local, drop by and I’ll share some with you!

Softneck garlic, which is the most common kind you find in the grocery store, rarely sets seed (according to my reading). It also doesn’t have scapes that you can eat. This type of garlic likes warm weather and isn’t as cold hardy as hardneck garlic. Here is a good link that explains the differences between the two types of garlic in greater detail.

Steady moisture and rich soil are important in growing any type of garlic. I have built the rich soil over the years. My soil is also sweet (the proper pH for garlic) because the rock underlying all the land around here is limestone. I did try growing some softneck garlic this season. We experienced a couple of months of little or no rain. (I was glad that the tornadoes missed us but wished we had gotten the rain that went with some of those storms.) Unfortunately, I didn’t keep up with my watering, and the softneck garlic stopped growing and dried up too quickly–so I harvested small bulbs there as well. Live and learn, Right?

IMG_6711This fall I am going to plant rocambole garlic sets in my front bed in an orderly fashion after I harvest all of my scallions. (I started them from seed this past spring.) I’m looking forward to eating mostly homegrown garlic next year! Begonia







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