Clear Mountain Garden Treasures
 

Clear Mountain Garden TreasuresCulture and Germination - Elephant Garlic

bulb
An underground shoot with thickened leaf bases
see also Bulbs, Corms and Tubers.
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stolon
A horizontal branch or running stem
that gives rise to new plants.
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stolon
A horizontal branch or running stem
that gives rise to new plants.
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Elephant Garlic

Bulb
Family Alliaceae
Name Allium ampeloprasum
Common Name Elephant garlic

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Elephant garlic is not a true garlic, but rather it is related to leeks. It is milder than garlic, grows giant cloves that can be larger than a garlic bulb. The culture is similar to garlic.

Culture

Like most plants from the onion family, plant in full Sun, in well drain neutral to slightly acidic soil (ph: 6-6.5). This means in most places in NZ, you need to add some lime to the soil before planting. All onions like plenty of water and fertiliser during the growing season. Plant with the pointed side of the clove facing up, just below the soil level.

Some text books may recommend planting garlic on the shortest day and harvest on the longest day, but this all depends on your micro-climate. In most places, it is better to plant in May instead, before the wet weather sets in. If you live in an area where the ground is frozen through Winter, then plant in Spring when the ground thaws. Harvest when the tops start to die down. If left in the ground for too long after the leaves die down, the bulbs might rot, or the cloves might turn green. Green cloves are not much good for eating, but OK for planting next season.

Garlic's growth and lifecycle is influenced by temperature. It starts growth in cool temperatures, and uses all food reserves in the clove to grow leaves and roots. As long as the temperature remains low, the leaves will continue to feed more leaf growth. When it gets warmer, larger plants will start to flower. All leaf growth is stopped and a flowering head forms. Cut off this head at the first opportunity. If cut off when young, the flowering heads are quite sweet and can be cooked like asparagus. The leaves then pump all food reserves back to the set of new garlic cloves that form inside the bulb.

Smaller plants, or plants grown with insufficient water / fertilizer will not flower and produce cloves, but instead will produce a "round". This is an onion looking bulb that do not have any cloves. Store this and plant the following May. This will produce larger plants, resulting is a huge bulb at harvest time.

The plants often grow small bulblets on short stolons that may either be inside or outside the bulb. These bulblets can be detached and planted, also in May. They will produce garlic cloves in their second year. They are usually covered by a hard skin - this should be removed before planting.


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