If you’ve been reading the blog over the past year, you may already know about my garlic project. If you want to catch up, here are the blogs about my 2020 garlic crop:

In summary: I am fairly obsessed with growing garlic, and I have a garlic collection that currently contains 4 varieties. I believe some garlic varieties are better for growing than others. I’ve only ever seen one variety – Printanor – in garden centers, and I don’t believe it grows that well for home gardeners.

So I’m growing my collection to the point where I can sell it to gardeners, so they can actually experience success in their garlic crops. My garden contained over 250 garlic plants this year. Also the garlic bed got hit twice by a wild pig this season.

The garlic went in over May and June 2020. Between November 2020 and January 2021, I lifted it. Now it’s time to do a bit of a review in terms of what happened, and what I’ve learned.

So how did I do?

White Rocombole

The beauty of this variety is it matures faster than the others I grow (5 months, vs 6). It’s my favourite one to cook and eat as it peels easily and has a balanced flavour suited to practically everything. It’s a hard-necked variety, and this year I managed to get some bulbils off the flower heads to try growing on to increase my stock in future years.

I harvested this one first, and I’m honestly not sure whether I did really well, or poorly.

2020 white rocombole harvest

This is my second year growing it, so I never planned to sell it. But I couldn’t sell what I have, even if I wanted to. It’s gone really bananas with its growth, almost going into a second growth cycle. While I now have a lot of this to plant next year, it’s not aesthetically pleasing at all.

I’ve done some research into what went wrong, and I’m very sure it comes down to the fact I refrigerated it before planting. I won’t be doing that again. But my mistake has put me ahead of where I thought I’d be. After another growing season, I should have heaps of it and I may even be at the point where I have enough to sell.


Gosh this garlic is beautiful. And huge. I’m so proud of every single one. This is my third year growing it and I should have a limited amount for sale in a couple of months. But the majority will be planted out next year.

Takahue harvest 2020

This is the garlic I think every Northlander/Aucklander should be growing. Historically, it was introduced to New Zealand by gumdiggers. It’s been growing in Northland for over 100 years. It’s well-adapted and seems to cope with everything it’s been thrown so far.

They do so well in our climate, and my neighbour has had the same success with the cloves I gave her. I’m not some garlic-growing guru with magical growing powers – I firmly believe this is just a superior garlic to grow in the home garden – at least in Northland. Another friend in Wellington did get bulbs, but they weren’t as large as those planted further north.

Flavour-wise, Takahue is stronger than White Rocombole, but not as strong as Ajo Roja/Spanish Red. It’s a soft-necked variety with purple-streaked skins.

Ajo Roja/Spanish Red

My strongest and spiciest garlic. It starts burning your fingers when you peel it, and is known for being the most medicinally-active variety. This is another hard-necked garlic and it developed the same problem as the Rocombole. Probably for the same reason. But instead of forming clumps of bulbs, it just split and didn’t have a skin.

Ajo roja harvest 2020

On some of the bulbs, the skin around the clove itself has also split, or gone entirely. We’ll be eating a lot of this variety this year as it’s not able to store in that condition.

This is the third year I’ve grown this one, and it’s always been quite prolific. I really wanted to sell it this year, but like the White Rocombole, it’s not good enough. So I’ll plant it again and see what I have in Year 4.

“Mongolian Red”

This year was Year 1 for this variety. I purchased it off TradeMe, and when it arrived, I suspected I actually had 3 different varieties.

Two of those varieties – including the one I thought might actually be a ‘Mongolian Red’ did not do well at all. They never took off and we only got a small number of tiny cloves off the couple that survived. One variety (the one I suspected was Printanor) did really quite well producing decent-sized, even bulbs. But it’s not red – like, at all.

Mongolian red garlic harvested in 2020

I don’t know what it is. It’s a soft-necked variety with white skins producing very round bulbs of 8-12 cloves. It’s not Printanor – that doesn’t grow as round, or as well. But that’s all I know.

We’ve taste-tested it (on garlic bread), and it’s milder and sweeter than the other varieties we’ve been growing. Usually my garlic bread is sharp and garlicy, but this one was more understated – in fact it’s milder than the usual store-bought NZ-grown garlic as well.

It’s definitely a new variety to me – the only other soft-necked garlic in my collection (Takahue) has definite purple streaks, forms a different shape, and has a stronger taste. It has absolutely earned a place in the collection. I’ve got 17 bulbs to grow on next season. I’ll just need to work out what it is over the next couple of years.


Not a garlic, but something I grew for the first time this year in the garlic bed, and wow. I’ve got a few.

I sourced some Henry’s Flowering shallots via Koanga Institute. Despite planting them too deep, they really went wild and I have way more than I need. Going forward, we can probably plant half as much. I reckon they’re easier to grow than onions, and I’ll be growing these on again for sure.

But I still have an abundance of shallots, and so I’m planning to sell them. There are not intended for planting (though you could do that), and more for eating.

They need to dry a little more before they’re actually on offer, but if you’d like a heads up on when they go on sale, be sure to sign up to the mailing list at the bottom of the page, or follow me on Twitter

Shallots harvested in 2020

Wrapping up

Overall, it’s been a great season. We have an obscene amount of garlic, even if most of it is being stashed for growing on. Vampires, beware!

I’ve made a couple of mistakes, and I’m not quite in the position I was hoping to be in right now – but nothing fatal, the collection is still going strong. Shallots and Takahue will be available for purchase in the future, at least. And I’ve got a 4th variety added to the collection.

My biggest mistake – and real challenge right now – is about storing it between harvest and re-planting. After harvesting my split-and-skinless hardnecks, I did some research. Garlic for growing needs to be stored at a constant temperature between 10-20ºC. That… doesn’t really exist around here in the peak of summer. I’ve got one idea for storing it under the cabin, let’s hope it works.

I’m already working on our beds for the next growing season, and I’m hunting down a potential 5th variety. This garlic-growing adventure is far from over for me.