I’ve been banging this drum for years; you simply cannot beat the flavour of homegrown garlic. That’s why every year we plant some bulbs, grow them organically before harvesting enough to get us through a few months without having to resort to sub-standard supermarket fare that’s been flown halfway across the world.
This year we tried two varieties; Cristo (one of our favourites) and Solent Wight. We did have a pretty bad case of rust, but it just seemed to affect the leaves and not the bulbs (and it means we won’t be able to grow any allium on that patch for a few seasons). The Cristo definitely outperformed the Solent Wight in terms of bulb size, but I feel like we didn’t have enough of a cold snap at the beginning of the year to promote bulb growth and division.
Regardless, we’ve seen got a few decent sized bulbs, and crucially, they smell just amazing. Last year I lost a lot of bulbs as I harvested them during a prolonged spell of rain and damp weather, and they went soft and mildewy very quickly. This year, we’ve had the intense heat and lots of sun, so the bulbs have been drying out nicely on a rack in the greenhouse. I’ll wait until the outer layers of the bulbs are papery and crisp before transferring them indoors to store somewhere cooler but with plenty of air circulation.
One of my simple pleasures in life is to make homemade vegetable soup from homegrown ingredients. The addition of homegrown garlic and onions brings a new level of flavour and fragrance to my cooking and just takes it into a realm of its own. Rich is more of a fan of homemade garlic bread, and we both enjoy the zingy fresh flavour in homemade pasta sauces too.
After eating slightly disappointing shop-bought garlic for a few months, I really don’t realise what I’m missing until I take that first taste of homegrown. Next time, we’ll grow even more to get us through the year. And if you haven’t tried it, you should. You’ll never look back.