Some of My Favorite Seed Companies – The Tomato lady

samson in gardenHere is a list of seed companies that I interact with on a regular basis. Good prices, nice selection of varieties, excellent seed quality, and good customer service! (My cat, Samson, has nothing to do with this subject but he sure is cute and is in the garden! Sam is a Maine Coon)

Seeds n Such
I love that this gentleman used to own Totally Tomatoes and decided to retire, which didn’t suit him so he opened up Seeds n Such. One of the nicest things about him is that their shipping is right in line with what it should be and they have a deal whereby if you buy 20 packets of seeds, they are all $1.99. Believe me, it’s easy to find that many things you want.

Tomatofest
Lots and lots of heirloom tomato seeds, some I have never heard of. The really nice thing is they are “local” –  California based. Most companies are midwest or eastern based companies. (I love them too, I just like buying local if I can)

Totally Tomatoes
Many, many varieties of tomatoes and peppers. Now they have other veggies. so I guess they aren’t “totally” tomatoes anymore! That’s ok, I like the variations.

Swallowtail Garden Seeds
This is for the flower growers. Veggies are good for your bodies, flowers are good for your soul. They have a nice variety, good prices, and quality seed. I love the pictures on the website, and they are fast!

Geo Seed
I recently found this company. I can’t remember how but am sure glad I did. Prices are phenomenal, customer service outstanding (Dora rocks!) varieties are numerous. Stuff you didn’t know you needed! the only drawback is that they don’t have pictures (but that is what the internet is for, right?) and at this time, you can’t order online. Mere nuisances. They have trade packets and bigger bulk sizes. I’d recommend the trade packets for home gardeners.

Fedco Seeds
I found this company in the last couple of years also. I love that they are a Cooperative and represent seed from a lot of small, independent growers. Great website too, lots of pictures. I found they have seeds with great histories; for instance, I found a winter squash called Uncle David’s Dakota Dessert Squash (a mouthful) on their site. it was passed down forever and as far as I can see, it’s not available anywhere else. it is delicious! Lots of fun stuff!

Irish Eyes Seeds – Located in Ellensburg, WA, Huge selection of potatoes and garlic and other cooler climate veggies.

High Mowing – I ordered from them last week and they have great selection and shipping was surprisingly fast. Out of Vermont.

Baker Seeds Great selection, good prices, and reasonable shipping. Unusual heirloom seeds from all over, rare and exotic seeds from around the world. Two examples: Thai Lavender Frog Egg Eggplant and Sichuan Red Beauty Radish. I have to be honest, some of them are so odd I can’t imagine growing them, like the Sakurajima Giant Radish, considered the world’s largest Radish. it’s white and bigger than my head! Definitely, an entertaining place to visit.

Snake River Seeds – They are new, at least to me, and I have yet to order from them but I will. they have bulk seeds too and they are local to me. In their own words:

“Snake River Seed Cooperative is a collective of family farmers in the Intermountain West who work together to produce a wide diversity of locally-adapted seeds. We believe that sharing seed saving knowledge with farmers in our region is vital to growing a robust, regional seedshed.”

While I can’t name everyone I like dealing with, (actually I could AND include all the links but I do have other things to do today!) here are some other companies I recommend, just search for them on the internet: Parks, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, Victory Seeds, Pase Seeds, Harris Seeds to name a few.

Don’t forget Northwest Seed and Pet. It is the best and biggest gardening store that I know of here in Spokane. They have a HUGE selection of seeds, a lot of which you may not have heard of. They carry their own bulk brand, Burpees, High Mowing, Baker Seeds, Snake River Seeds, Botanical Interests, Irish Eyes and many, many more. Don’t miss their cat, give him a scratch.

 

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Just A Little Something I Did To Pass The Time Today

Today, I transplanted 557 baby flowers into their 3.5′ pots. Pansies (Bolero, Fizzle Sizzle Mix and then the Yellow and Blue, Chianti, Colussus, Super Swiss Giants, Heat Elite, and Flirty Skirts), Petunias (Silver Tidal Wave, Dolcissima Flambe, Subperbissima Doubled, Fluffy Ruffles, Pico Bella, Spellbound in Pink, Wine Red, Dark Purple and White Blush, and Evening Scentsation), Impatiens (Accent Mystic, Red Flash, Star, Athena Red Flash, Athena mix Impressa Cherry Splash and Shady Ladies Blushing Beauties, alyssum, and Verbena (Peaches and Cream and Scentsation) tomorrow the alyssums and lobelias. Pansies and Petunias are some of my very favorite flowers.

Of course, nothing looks like this but hope springs eternal, at least for us gardeners. Winter has finally shown up and we have almost a foot of snow on the ground, maybe a little more. I had my stereo on and a heater keeping me warm as I transplanted, dreaming of summer days and bright happy faces of pansies. I do love the snow but it is mid=February and it should be done by now. Maybe next year we could have winter in December and January!

Oh, I also planted the one Godetia that came up. The seed was pretty old.

 

Momotaro Tomato – Japanese Variety

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I am going to start posting my new tomato offerings for you to see. This one was one I had never heard of and a customer requested it last year. Interestingly enough, I don’t normally think of Japanese cuisine when I think of tomatoes. Who knew?

Momotaro Tomato (F1) is the most popular fresh tomato in Japan. Here in the US, it is marketed as “Tough Boy”. Deep pink, with green shoulders around the stem, these 6 – 7 oz. tomatoes are sweet with a delightful refined flavor and a little bit of tang.

Noted for crack resistance, holding quality, and Verticillium, Fusarium and nematode resistance.

This tomato has some wonderful characteristics and I am happy to offer it under the original name which refers to a hero in Japanese folklore.

Here are some pictures of the newly transplanted babies, tomato babies. Just in case you thought I was sitting on my laurels! I try not to transplant until they have there first true leaves. It takes them 4 to 7 days to germinate, then another week to grow their true leaves I have found there is no real point to transplanting any earlier than that. Often, when you do, they fail to thrive. There isn’t enough root system to recover well.

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Here are the two greenhouses almost full of plants. I will be transplanting about 2000 more in about a week. Again, waiting for them to get their true leaves.

Now for some individual pictures

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How to Test the Germination Rate of Your Old Seeds – Courtesy of You Grow Girl

This is an excellent article on testing the germination rate of seeds. If you are like me, I am always saving seeds I buy, seeds I collect from my garden, seeds I save from other folk’s plants… Sometimes I feel the need to test the germination rate of seeds I buy from commercial seed houses! Occasionally I get no or little germination on a seed packet.

How to Test the Germination Rate of Your Old Seeds

I love to buy, collect, save, and trade seed, but I have to admit that I do not go about it in a particularly organized fashion. While I am careful about where and how I store my seeds and I do have my own “it’s all in my head” system, it doesn’t exactly compare to some of the personal seed banks I have seen. I do not have Excel charts or lists of any kind that track what I have and when I got it. If I’m being honest, I often don’t realize I am out of a particular something or other unless I bother to check ahead of time. However, most years that moment doesn’t come until I am in the act of sowing. Whoops, guess I won’t be growing that this year.  For this reason, it’s not uncommon for me to find packets in my stash that are older than I can remember. Most store-bought seeds have a “packed for” date on them, but I receive a lot of seed in trade, and some of those traders are even less organized than me. The seed of some plants last no more than a year or so. If I find an unmarked, rogue packet of onions or leeks I can be nearly certain that they are junk. Tomatoes seem to last forever, so if I find a packet of unknown origin that I’d like to grow, it’s worth spending the time to test its germination rate.A germination test determines the viability of the seed — how many in a packet will reliably germinate. This is important because the window of opportunity to get some crops sown and growing can be short. I’ve lost the chance to grow a specific variety some years because I sowed and then waited on seed that wouldn’t grow.Germination rate can also provide a gauge of a seed’s vigor. I explain what this is below.

How to Test for Germination Rate
There are lots of ways to go about this. Some people use paper towels. I use coffee filters because I find it easier to see the germinated seeds and their roots should I opt to plant those that have germinated. Fragile roots and leaves tend to disappear in the pile of paper towels.

What You Need:
Coffee filters
Plastic baggies
Water
10 Seeds (per test)
Permanent marker

Cut or tear the coffee filter along the bottom and one side seam. Lightly moisten with water so that it is moist, but not sopping wet. I sometimes use a spray bottle but you can also just dip it into a bowl of water and squeeze it out.

Open the filter up flat and lay out 10 seeds on one half. You do not have to do 10 seeds at a time, but it makes figuring out the germination rate a heck of a lot easier. Spread the seeds out so that they aren’t touching. I do this so that there is less chance that their roots will become entangled should I decide to plant them up.

Fold the half of the coffee filter that does not have seeds over onto the side that does.

Fold the bottom half up.

Place the moist and folded coffee filter inside a baggie and seal. Write the variety name and the date you started the test on the outside of the baggie. I write this onto sticker labels so I can reuse the baggies in further testing.

Place the sealed and labelled baggies in a warm place and check on them every few days to see whether germination has occurred. Some seeds may require more time. Some may also require light in order to germinate, or more heat.

Tip: The majority of the seeds I test do well in a kitchen or utility drawer that is used often. Otherwise I have a tendency to forget about them! I also put a sticky note on the front of the drawer as an added reminder to keep checking the seeds! Hot peppers tend to need more heat, so I keep them on top of a reliably warm (but not hot) appliance.

The rate is determined by the number of seeds out of 10 that have germinated. For example, 6 out of 10 seeds = 60% 3 out of 10 = 30% and so on.

You can go ahead and plant any seedling that have germinated into soil just as you would a seed. Don’t bother trying to remove the seedling from the paper — you risk damaging delicate roots. Instead, tear the paper around the plant. (Note: If your seedlings have browned roots like mine do in the above photo then I would not suggest planting them up. I left those too long and the roots were starting to rot.)

Loss of Vigor: Seeds that fall below 70% germination tend to suffer from a loss of vigor that will increase with each passing year. What this means is that even though many of them will still germinate, the seedlings that develop may not be healthy or develop into strong, vital plants. If the percentage isn’t too low you may decide to take a chance and see how the seedlings develop. It should be easy enough to determine which are suffering. However, if you’re planning to save seed from this plant for future crops then you may want to replace the seed now. Unhealthy plants beget unhealthy plants and since you’re going to the effort, it is worth it to start out with the best of the best.

Please note that some varieties suffer from a poor germination rate even when new and healthy, so it’s important to know your plant/variety.

Tip: I keep all of my seed testing equipment (including the used baggies) together with my seed saving equipment in one of the dollar store containers that I use for organizing seed. That way I have it on hand whenever I need it.

Source: How to Test the Germination Rate of Your Old Seeds – You Grow Girl

Behind the Scenes: Planting Peppers Seeds,, Petunias, Lobelia, Alyssum, Pansies and Million Bells

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Here you are looking about 1000 or so peppers seeds.

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Here I am planting pepper seeds and some flowers. I planted 50 different varieties of peppers, superhots, sweet bell, non sweet bells, hot and medium hot peppers. I was scared to death to touch the seeds from the superhots so I used tweezers to place them in the seedling pots. My luck, I would have touched them and then my eye, not thinking! Ouch! This was on January 15. They have almost all come up now. We have a ton of baby jalapenos. For all of my seeds I use a sterile seed starting mix and clean single pots. Damping off is an ugly thing!

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This is how my pelletized petunia seed came. It is put into a gel cap, and looks sort of like Contact cold medicine. Depending on variety, there are 5 to 10 seeds. I love working with it in this form, much easier to not over sow. In it’s “wild” form, it is like brown dust. You might think you used 25 seed but in reality, you just dispensed 349 seeds!

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Such tiny little seeds.

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Petunia and Million Bells seeds don’t like to be covered. They need light to germinate. Peppers on the other hand need a thin scattering of seed starting mix over them. Always read your seed packet to see what the light requirements are for germination.

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Million Bells is another one that I like to work with pelletized. They are coated with a clay like substance. the seed lays on top (press into the seed starting mix) and wet with water. This softens the clay coat and they are able to germinate. I use tweezers to distribute as evenly as I can so they can grow after germinating and not crowd each other. They take a long time to obtain a size that I like transplanting. I have found there is no point in rushing them.

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What To Do When Dahlia Tubers Sprout Early?

Those of us who save our dahlias have probably encountered this problem. I know I have. Here is the answer to that question courtesy of Garden Making. I believe they are out of Canada so they use celsius temperature which is easily convertable.

What to do when stored dahlia tubers sprout early? By Garden Making

Question: Michael in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, asks:
Dahlia tubers that were stored in peat moss in the basement have started to send up shoots. They’re  in the coldest part of the basement, but it is 14 to 16°C in the room with about 35% humidity. Should the sprouts be trimmed off? Left alone?

Answer: Nick Vanderheide of Creekside Growers in Delhi, Ontario, says:
The issue at hand is really the storage conditions. Dahlias will sprout under warm, damp conditions, and anything above 10° C is considered warm. The humidity level of the room may very well be 35%, but do you know what the humidity is in the peat moss? You want to maintain a decent amount of moisture in the tubers (not the media it’s stored in) so at 35% room humidity, it is a good thing to put them in peat moss to prevent them from drying out.Heat is the big deciding factor in sprouting. Spring soil temperature is usually around 12 to 16°C when we plant and that causes the tubers to sprout, so if they are in a room at that temperature they will definitely start growing.

In the Netherlands, this sprouting is actually how new, true-to-type, dahlias are produced. The tubers are forced indoors to produce little shoots which are then cut off, rooted and grown as plugs to then plant in the field for the summer where they will produce a new tuber that can be harvested in the fall.The shoots on your tubers can be trimmed or not; they will not affect the viability of the tuber come spring time.

One thing to consider, though, is that the tuber is simply a storage organ for the energy it needs to grow come spring time, so if your tubers continue to try to grow, they are using up energy that they need in the spring to become a big, healthy plant.I would strongly suggest getting those dahlias into a colder area to slow down that sprouting. And then stop worrying—spring is only a few short months away!

Source: What to do when dahlia tubers sprout early?

Wise Pairings: Best Flowers to Plant with Vegetables – Organic Gardening – MOTHER EARTH NEWS

adelaide festival 7 6 17This is a long article but I thought it is worth sharing.

Wise Pairings: Best Flowers to Plant with VegetablesPlant a profusion of pollen- and nectar-rich flowers among your edible plants to naturally control pests, boost pollination and provide pretty pops of color. Here, learn some of the best flowers to plant with vegetables and get tips for arranging your space.By Rosalind Creasy | February/March 2015     As you plant flowers in the vegetable garden, play with colors and textures as the author does in her beautiful central California edible landscape.Photo by Rosalind Creasy In the 1970s, when I was a budding landscape designer newly exciting about strategizing the best flowers to plant with vegetables, I attended the garden opening of one of my clients. As I walked around anonymously, wine glass in hand, I overheard many guests exclaiming, “Do you see that? She put flowers in the vegetable garden!”In the United States, segregating vegetables from flowers still seems like such a hard-and-fast rule that when I lecture on edible landscaping, one of the first things I mention is that I’ve checked the Constitution, and planting flowers in a vegetable garden is not forbidden. Not only can you put flowers in with vegetables, you should.I admit that, in the ’70s, I first intermixed my flowers and vegetables because I was gardening in the front yard of my suburban home and hoped the neighbors wouldn’t notice or complain as long as the veggies were surrounded by flowers. Soon, however, I discovered I had fewer pest problems, I saw more and more birds, and my crops were thriving.It turns out that flowers are an essential ingredient in establishing a healthy garden because they attract beneficial insects and birds, which control pests and pollinate crops. Most gardeners understand this on some level. They may even know that pollen and nectar are food for insects, and that seed heads provide food for birds. What some may not realize is just how many of our wild meadows and native plants have disappeared under acres of lawn, inedible shrubs and industrial agriculture’s fields of monocultures, leaving fewer food sources for beneficial critters. With bees and other pollinators under a chemical siege these days and their populations in drastic decline, offering chemical-free food sources and safe havens is crucial. Plus, giving beneficial insects supplemental food sources of pollen and nectar throughout the season means they’ll stick around for when pests show up.-Advertisement- Envision an Integrated Edible LandscapeOne of the cornerstones of edible landscaping is that gardens should be beautiful as well as bountiful. Mixing flowers and vegetables so that both are an integral part of the garden’s design is another key. Let’s say you have a shady backyard, so you decide to put a vegetable garden in the sunny front yard. Many folks would install a rectangular bed or wooden boxes, and plant long rows of vegetables, maybe placing a few marigolds in the corners, or planting a separate flower border. In either case, the gardener will have added plants offering a bit of much-needed pollen and nectar.Integrating an abundance of flowers among the vegetables, however, would impart visual grace while also helping beneficial insects accomplish more. Plentiful food sources will allow the insects to healthily reproduce. Plus, most of their larvae have limited mobility. For example, if a female lady beetle or green lacewing lays her eggs next to the aphids on your violas, the slow-moving, carnivorous larvae won’t be able to easily crawl all the way across the yard to also help manage the aphids chowing down on your broccoli.In addition to bringing in more “good guys” to munch pests, flowers will give you more control because they can act as a useful barrier — a physical barrier as opposed to the chemical barriers created in non-organic systems. The hornworms on your tomato plant, for instance, won’t readily migrate to a neighboring tomato plant if there’s a tall, “stinky” marigold blocking the way.Create Cool Combos of Flowers and VegetablesTo begin establishing your edible landscape, you should plant flowers with a variety of colors and textures, different sizes and shapes, and an overall appealing aesthetic. After you’ve shed the notion that flowers and vegetables must be separated, a surprising number of crop-and-flower combinations will naturally emerge, especially if you keep in mind the following six guidelines.1. Stagger sizes. Pay attention to the eventual height and width of each flower and food plant (check seed packets and nursery tags), and place them accordingly. Tall plants, for the most part, belong in back. They’ll still be visible, but they won’t block the smaller plants from view or from sunshine. A good rule is to put the taller plants on the north and east sides of your garden, and the shorter ones on the south and west sides.-Advertisement-2. Consider proportions. A 6-foot-tall sunflower planted next to an 18-inch-tall cabbage would look lopsided. Instead, place

Source: Wise Pairings: Best Flowers to Plant with Vegetables – Organic Gardening – MOTHER EARTH NEWS

Softneck Garlic

by Darius Van d’Rhys

Softneck garlics are well adapted to warmer climates. It is softneck garlic that you are likely to find in the grocery store, because softneck garlic stores and travels better than hardneck. The types of softneck garlic you are most likely to encounter are Artichokes (with a sub-group of Turbans) and Silverskins.

Artichoke Garlic
Artichoke garlics (sativums or softnecks) are the most commonly grown commercial garlic because they are easier to grow and produce larger bulbs than most other garlics. They store well and this is what you probably buy at the grocer’s. In fact, most people aren’t even aware that there is more than one kind of garlic.

Artichoke garlics are generally very large, and have a wide range of flavors with some like Simoneti and Red Toch being very mild and pleasant and others such as Inchelium Red and Susanville, have greater depth of flavor. Purple Cauldron (in the sub-group Asiatics, now considered a hardneck garlic) is much stronger and sticks around for a while. Chinese Purple (another hardneck Asiatic) is instantly hot!

The Turban sub-group of artichoke garlics tend to be the most colorful artichokes and have fewer cloves per bulb than the others. The turbans also harvest earlier and store less long than the other artichokes and a good bit stronger in taste as well. (I didn’t find much information on the turban garlics, sorry.)

Some Artichoke Garlic Varieties
Kettle River Giant’, giant bulbs, 10-15 cloves/bulb, early harvest, medium, stores 6-7 months.
Inchelium Red’ Harvests mid-season – stores 6-7 months. Grows very well in warm winter areas. In 1990 Rodale Kitchens, part of the parent organization of Organic Gardening magazine, sponsored a garlic tasting contest. Inchelium Red won. It usually has anywhere from 12 to 20 cloves and is large enough that even the interior cloves are generally of good size. Bulbs are usually over 2 and a half inches in diameter and will weigh several ounces each.
Red Toch’ Harvests early in season – stores 6-7 months. Semi-rich but very mellow. Grows very well in warm winter areas. It is not quite as mild as Chet’s and not quite as strong as Inchelium Red. Red Toch averages fairly large bulbs that are a little larger than Chet’s but not as large as Simoneti or Inchelium Red.
California Early’ Harvests Mid-late season – stores 6-7 months. This one of the two Gilroy cultivars is the one you’re least likely to find in the local supermarkets because it is processed into dried and pickled and otherwise processed garlic products. California Early is a little bigger and sweeter than California Late, which is definitely on the hot side. Cal Early is an excellent all- around general use garlic and a wonderful baker.
Applegate’ is a mild and mellow artichoke garlic and is a good garlic to grow in warm winter areas.
Early Red Italian’ Harvests early in season – stores 6-7 months. It has a semi-rich flavor and a little bite, but is still on the light side.
Lorz Italian’ An Heirloom Garlic. Excellent strong garlic for warm winter gardeners. Harvests mid season – stores 6-8 months.
Thermadrone from France, Harvests in early-mid season – stores 6-7 months.
Simoneti‘ Harvests in mid-season – stores about 6 months.
California Late’ Harvests Mid-late season – stores 6-7 months. One of the two cultivars you’re most likely to find in the local supermarkets, along with California Early. California Late is a little on the hot side and has more color. it is a prolific grower and a good commercial garlic
Siciliano Harvests mid season – stores about 6 months. Rich flavor, zesty medium pungency. Its richness makes it excellent for raw eating as in pesto or salsa.

Some Turban Artichoke Varieties
Chinese Purple’ Harvests VERY early in season – stores 5-6 months. Very strong garlic taste with a fierce heat.
Shantang Purple’ – Limited supply, Hot, 6-8 cloves/bulb, good for many climates.
Maiskij’ – This Turban garlic originated in Turkmenistan, one of those small, mountainous Islamic republics near Chechnia. The taste is medium strong, leaning toward being bold, but not overpowering.
Silverwhite’, almost mellow taste for 15 to 20 seconds before you experience an intense heat that lasts for about 30 to 45 seconds. Good to Fair for Warm Winter Areas, Harvests late season – stores 8-10 months.

Silverskin Garlic
Silverskins have silvery, white skins and are composed of many small cloves. They also have a nice sturdy neck that is easily braided. The flavor of Silverskins is usually stronger than Artichokes. ‘Nootka Rose‘ and ‘Rose du var‘ are both full-bodied Silverskins.

Silverskin garlics are in a class by themselves. They are the last garlics to mature and they store the longest. They also have a great range of taste, pungency, and size as well as time of maturity. No other garlics braid better than Silverskins and they will grow well in most of the USA.

S & H Silverskin has a musky, earthy taste with very little bite when eaten raw. Locati can be fiery hot. Silverwhite has a richness to it and seems almost mellow for 15 to 20 seconds before you experience an intense heat that lasts for about 30 to 45 seconds. Nootka Rose has that same richness but with only a medium heat. Silverskins have more cloves per bulb, on the average, than the artichokes and some, like Mexican Red Silver have a lot of tiny cloves while others, like S & H Silverskin and Silverwhite have almost all large cloves with very few small ones.

Some Silverskin Garlic Varieties
S & H Silverskin has a musky, earthy taste with very little bite when eaten raw.
Nootka Rose’ Heirloom from Washington State, rich, bold taste with medium heat, large mahogany cloves, 15-20 per bulb. , Fair for Warm Winter Areas, Long storing.
Locati’, can be fiery hot. Fair for Warm Winter Areas, 11-12 cloves/bulb. Harvests late season – stores 8-10 months.
Rose du Var’, bold, strong and long French garlic taste. 8-12 cloves/bulb Harvests late season – stores 8-10 months.
Other Silverskin varieties include ‘Mexican Red Silver’, ‘Sicilian Silver’ ,’Silver Rose’, and ’Mild French’.

Hardneck Garlic

By Darius Van d’Rhys

Are you a hardneck or a softneck kinda garlic lover? Do you know?

Most of us only know the supermarket variety, which is a softneck grown for shipping qualities rather than range of flavor. Hardneck and softneck are the broadest terms used for all varieties of garlic, and there are several hundred sub-species within those varieties. We’ll look at a few of the hardnecks here, and some taste notes you might consider in growing one variety over another.

A separate article will cover softneck garlic for Southern climates.

All garlics are Alliums, the species sativum, and originated in central Asia. Garlics fall into two broad categories, the hardnecks which usually grow a woody, hard neck or scape in the stem center are var. ophioscorodon. The softnecks which usually don’t grow a scape, are var. sativum. The climate in central Asia is damp and cold, which the hardnecks prefer. The softnecks were later developed from hardnecks and do better than hardnecks in warmer climates.

History
Most of the early garlic in the US came with immigrants from Poland, Germany and Italy. In 1989 the Soviet Union finally invited the Americans into the Caucasus region to collect garlic varieties. They were only allowed to travel at night (in military areas) and as they went from village to village along the old Silk Road, they named the cultivars from the towns where they were purchased. Hence, we often have a variety known by more than one name.

Hardnecks
According to many garlic lovers, hardnecks have the only ‘real’ garlic flavor although I am a garlic lover and I heartily disagree. Hardnecks are distinguished by the stiff “neck” or stalk in the center of the growing plant and they tend to have fewer but more uniform cloves around the stalk. There are three distinct groups of hardnecks: Rocambole, Purple StripePorcelain. Three additional groups have recently been added, Marbled Purple Stripe, Glazed Purple Stripe and Asiatic. Unfortunately, I found very few variety references for them.

The most readily seen garlics are Rocambole and the term is often used as a generic name for all garlic. Rocamboles have thin, parchment-like skins and do not store as well as softnecks. However, they do peel easier. The term ‘serpent garlic’ comes from Rocamboles, which have curling top scapes that produce seeds called bubils. Bubils may be planted which in 2-3 years will mature into full-sized garlic bulbs.

Purple Striped garlic is aptly named for the stripes which all have to some degree. The differences in Purple Stripes in taste are from mild to pungent, and in time to maturity. I have ‘Chesnok’ growing in my garden, mainly for roasting whole.

Porcelain garlics have a thick, tough skin making them excellent for storing. The heads are plump with just a few large, fat cloves. Only the Silverskins (a softneck) store longer. Porcelains are all full-flavored, generally running to musky hot and pungent in taste. They are usually more expensive to buy and have the fewest cloves per bulb… sometimes as few as 4 although 6-8 is more typical.

I no longer wonder where fire breathing dragons come from in Chinese folklore – they’re ordinary people who have eaten too much of the Asiatic garlics. Asiatic garlics were originally classified as a separate group that was part of the Artichoke garlics (Softnecks) but recent DNA research done independently by Dr. Gayle Volk[2] of the USDA in Fort Collins, Colorado and Dr. Joachim Keller of the Institute for Plant Research in Gaterslaben, Germany, shows them to be weak-bolting hardnecks.

Here is a list of a few hardneck garlic varieties, with some notes about them and taste descriptions:

Rocambole:
‘Baba Franchuk’s’, endangered and hard to find, excellent flavor with punch
‘Carpathian (Polish)’, very strong, hot and spicy and sticks around for a long time
‘Colorado Black’, smooth, medium bite
‘Dan’s Italian’, good strong bite
‘German Red’, rich, strong flavor, hot and spicy, lingering flavor, 8-9 cloves/bulb
‘Killarney Red’, perhaps originated from ‘Spanish Roja’ or ‘German Red’ but said to grow better than either of those. Rich flavor, 8-9 cloves/bulb, heritage, endangered and hard to find
‘Korean Purple’, hearty delicious flavor, heritage, endangered and hard to find
‘Purple Italian’, rare, rich and strong and not overly hot and spicy, 8-9 easy to peel cloves/bulb
‘Purple Max’, strong rough flavor, heritage, endangered and hard to find
‘Puslinch’, excellent lively flavor, heritage, endangered and hard to find
‘Spanish Roja’, heirloom, huge bulbs, strong hot and spicy, full flavor, 8-9 cloves/bulb

Purple Stripe:
‘Bogatyr’ stores well, 5-7 cloves/bulb
‘Brown Tempest’, a marbled purple stripe, heritage variety, 5-9 cloves/bulb
‘Chesnok’ or ‘Chesnok Red’ (aka Shvelisi) roasts well, rich hot medium flavor, lingering taste, 4-10 cloves/bulb
‘Chrysalis Purple’, large, dependable, hardy, easy to peel, 8-12 cloves/bulb
‘Duganskii’, heritage variety
‘Khabar’, smooth mellow taste
‘Metechi’, very strong, heritage variety
‘Persian Star’ (aka Samarkand), rich elegant medium flavor, heritage
‘Purple Glazer’, tall with large bulbs, sweet hot and warm richness like ‘Red Toch’ and ‘Burgundy’, heritage, hard to find, 9-12 cloves/bulb, stores 5 months
‘Red Rezan’, hot, mid harvest, needs very cold winters, 9-12 cloves/bulb, stores 5 months
‘Siberian’, mild delightful flavor, not overpowering, 5-7 giant cloves/bulb, heritage, thrives in cold climates, stores 5 months
‘Skuri #2’, very strong
‘Starbright’ has a somewhat nutty flavor

Porcelain:
‘Dan’s Russian’, full flavor that starts strong and then fades
‘Fish Lake 3’, heritage, good taste and strength, endangered and hard to find
‘Georgian Crystal’ is very mild with fat bulbs, 4-6 large cloves/bulb, stores 6 months
‘Georgian Fire’, rich, robust, strong and lingering flavor, endangered and hard to find, 5-9 cloves/bulb, stores 6-7 months, Hottest
‘German Stiffneck’ is often called ‘German Extra-Hardy’, ‘German White’ and ‘Northern White’, strong and robust flavor, stores 10 months or longer
‘Leningrad’, hot and strong, endangered and hard to find
‘Music’, large bulbs, hot, sweet and pungent, 4-7 cloves/bulb, stores 6 months
‘Northern Québec’, endangered and hard to find
‘Polish Hardneck’, sometimes called ‘Polish Carpathian’, rich flavor, hot searing pungency that sticks around for a long time. Good hot strong long storing garlic.
‘Romanian Red’ is fiery hot and has a lingering tanginess
‘Rosewood’, very strong and robust and sticks around for a long time and can nearly be overpowering at times
‘Susan Delafield’, very HOT, tolerates wet soils, endangered and hard to find
‘Ukrainian Mavniv’, good strong flavor
‘Wild Buff’, very strong and robust and sticks around for a long time and can nearly be overpowering at times
‘Yugoslavian Porcelain’, strong with good taste, 2-5 cloves/bulb
‘Zemo’, hot, strong and spicy robust flavor, grows well, stores 5 months

Asiatic Garlics
‘Asian Rose’ – A strong garlic, Harvests VERY early in season – stores about 5-6 months.
‘Asian Tempest’ – A strong garlic. Harvests VERY early in season – stores about 5-6 months.
‘Japanese’ – Early harvest, 4-8 cloves/bulb, stores 5 months, Hot
‘Korean Red’ – rich yet mellow. Harvests VERY early in season – stores about 5-6 months.
‘Pyong Vang’, Mid-harvest, 7-10 cloves/bulb, stores 6 months, hottest
‘Russian Redstreak’, A rare early season mild garlic; delightfully mild and full flavored with only a little heat, productive, stores very well, presents a nice appearance with an excellent raw flavor.
‘Gregory’s China Rose’, Harvests early in season – stores around 6 months. – Excellent for growing in Warm Winter Areas. Rich earthy flavor.

Footnotes:
[1] http://www.gourmetgarlicgardens.com/growing.htm
[2] Genetic Diversity among U.S. Garlic Clones, Gayle M. York, Adam D. Henk, and Christopher M. Richards, J. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 129(4): 559-569. 2004

Photo Credits: Many Thanks to Hood River Garlic Farm, http://www.hoodrivergarlic.com/

Garlic for planting should be pre-ordered now (or before late summer) to assure availability. By mid-to–late summer when I usually start to think of planting garlic, very few varieties are still available.

Some sources for buying garlic:
http://www.garlicfarm.ca/garlic-varieties.htm

http://www.gourmetgarlicgardens.com/boutique.htm
http://www.hoodrivergarlic.com/

http://www.seeds.ca/rl/rl.php
http://rareseeds.com/seeds/Garlic
http://www.seedsavers.org/products.asp?dept=89
http://www.johnnyseeds.com/catalog/search.aspx?scommand=search&search=garlic
http://www.nicholsgardennursery.com/store/dept.asp?dept%5Fid=130&mscssid=Q08K9VW4TVWG8LUA9MFUQ5M750188FWD
http://www.sandhillpreservation.com/catalog/allium.html
http://www.seedsofchange.com/garden_center/browse_category.asp?category_id=6345
http://www.goodseedco.net/garlic.html
http://www.filareefarm.com/asi.html