Love garlic but hate spending tons of time peeling all those teeny cloves? Well, hardneck garlic is the type for you! With only a single ring of 4–12 larger, more flavorful cloves that are easy to peel, hardneck garlic is nothing short of a cook’s best friend. Gardeners in the Northeast and Midwest also love these types of alliums for their cold hardiness and ability to survive deep freezes—when properly mulched—in the winter months. Unlike softnecks, hardneck varieties produce a flower-like stalk called a scape that should be removed in order to improve bulb production. While pruning this stem may seem like a tedious summer chore, scapes are actually quite delicious and can be used like scallions.
Porcelain varietals of garlic have been increasing in popularity over the years as people become more aware of their rich, hot flavor and long storage life. It’s likely Porcelain garlics have taken a while to catch on due to their lower yields per head—instead of having upwards of 4–12 cloves, as is the case with other varieties, Porcelains only produce about 4–6 cloves per head. That said, these cloves are much larger than other varietals, which means less peeling during prep! Music is perhaps the most popular of the Porcelain types thanks to its hot, biting flavor that tends to mellow out to almost sweet when cooked. Better suited to cool weather than many other varietals, the Music type is a great option for those who experience cold winters.
Seed: Hardneck garlic rarely produces true bulbs from seed, so we recommend that you propagate vegetatively.
Vegetative: Select large, outer cloves from bulbs and leave the outer paper layer on. Separate bulbs the day of planting and plant cloves with the point facing upwards.
Clove Depth: 1–2″
Space Between Plants: 1–3″
Space Between Rows: 5–9″
Sprouting Soil Temperature: 40–60°F
Days for Sprouting: 14
Sow Indoors: Not recommended.
Sow Outdoors: 3–5 weeks before first hard freeze. Can be planted in the late winter/early spring but will produce smaller bulbs. If you’re located in a warm climate zone where the soil doesn’t freeze, plant in late fall or early winter.
Hardneck garlic varietals are quite cold hardy and can survive deep winter freezes when mulched. If not mulched, plants can survive low temperatures above 10°F, after which you may experience stunted growth and/or death. Garlic plants don’t care for too much moisture, which can cause mildew, so you may experience difficulties growing this garlic if you live in a region with warm weather and lots of precipitation. Can be grown in zones 1–9 but will do best in zones 2–6.
Natural: Full sun, partial shade. Will do best with at least six hours of direct sunlight daily.
Artificial: If planting indoors, use HID lamps a foot above plants to help seedlings grow.
Soil: This type of garlic prefers loamy, sandy, well-drained soil. A pH between 6–8 will keep plants happy. Be sure to clear your soil of weeds before planting as garlic doesn’t like to compete for resources.
Soilless: Plant bulbs or germinate seeds in a soilless mix of vermiculite, coco fiber, well-rotted manure, or perlite.
Hydroponics: Will thrive in an NFT hydroponic system.
Water: Be sure to water your plants at least once a week from mid-spring to mid-summer; approximately 1″ of water per week should suffice. Stop watering approximately 2 weeks before harvesting.
Nutrients: This type of garlic is a moderate to high feeder and is a particular fan of nitrogen. Apply a nitrogen-based compost to your soil prior to planting and again two to three weeks after your plants have emerged. Fertilizing is not necessary once plants have become established.
Foliar: Garlic plants tend to have vertical, waxy leaves that foliars have a hard time penetrating. If desired, however, apply a light spray of liquid seaweed in the early stages of growth.
Pruning: Clip scapes as soon as they start to curl. This will likely happen in the early summer in most climate zones.
Mulching: Cover your planting area with 2–4″ of straw after planting. Remove this layer in the spring to avoid the growth of mildew and mold.
Deficiency(s): If your plants are experiencing a nitrogen or phosphorus deficiency, you might notice your leaves yellowing prematurely. To remedy, apply a balanced fertilizer around your plants.
Rotation: A 5-year rotation away from all plants in the onion family is recommended.
Companions: Grows well with cabbage family plants, beets, lettuce, tomatoes, celery, and strawberries. Avoid peas and legumes.
Harvest: Harvest bulbs when the leaves have begun to turn yellow and dry out. For Porcelain varieties, this’ll likely be in mid to late summer. Bulbs can be extracted by loosening the ground around the bulb with a shovel or spade and then pulling. Take care not to shovel too close to the plant: you might damage the bulb. If you’ve already done so, don’t worry! Damaged bulbs can be saved and used for planting in the future.
Storage: Bulbs can be stored by hanging in an aerated, dry location with the tops attached. Once dried, garlic will keep for long periods of time without any refrigeration.
Fun Fact: Ever heard that garlic is good for the heart? Well those weren’t just rumors as many studies have shown that the component known as allicin (which is found in garlic) has been linked to reducing cholesterol and decreasing the risk of heart attack. The Music varietal of garlic has exceptionally high levels of allicin. So do yourself a favor and stock your garden with this plant ASAP! Your heart will thank you for it.
Preserve: Garlic may be stored dry, pickled in vinegar, powdered, or frozen in oil. If freezing or pickling, take care to read instructions carefully to avoid any risk of botulism.
Prepare: Used in a wide variety of dishes, garlic can be sautéed, roasted, crushed, or eaten raw. Garlic can be peeled by hand or smashed with the flat side of a knife to remove the papery skin. To easily peel a whole head of garlic, place in a bowl or pot with a cover and shake vigorously. This will remove the skin of the head all at once!
Nutritional: A good source of vitamin(s) B6, C, manganese, and germanium.
Medicinal: Traditionally used since ancient civilization, garlic has been cited as having many health benefits, from lowering blood pressure to acting as an anti-inflammatory. Germanium has also been shown to assist in lowering the risk of certain cancers.
Warnings: Perhaps because it’s so frequently cited as a “cure-all,” reports have been made of individuals experiencing adverse reactions to garlic. Consult your physician before using garlic topically for any reason as it can cause burns or inflammation. Allergies to garlic and other plants in the onion family may also occur.
As kimchi is a fermented dish loaded with garlic, you will absolutely lovely these Fermented Garlic Scapes if you can’t get enough of that kimchi goodness.