Have you failed growing garlic? I have. No matter what I did, the stuff I bought at the store just didn’t turn out right.
My failure led me to research. And my research revealed there are hundreds of varieties of garlic in the world… but I could only ever find one in garden stores.
So I began a search, that turned into a hobby, and grew into an obsession. Each year, I seek out new varieties and grow them on with the aim of supplying home growers with better garlic. Especially garlic that will flourish in Northland’s climate and conditions.
In 2021, I was set to offer around 700 bulbs to home growers, but then the entire crop was hit with rust. I managed to save enough of my lines to keep them growing in 2022, but it will be 2023 before I’m ready to try a big grow again!
I do offer my excess growing stock as seed, and tend to sell out quickly each year. Join the mailing list below if you’d like to know when seed garlic goes on sale. Seed garlic is sold out for 2022.
This is a garlic for garlic lovers. It’s a spicy, strong garlic with red skins that deepen to purple as they dry. If you’re looking to take advantage of the medicinal benefits of garlic, this is the one for you.
Ajo Roja is a hard-necked garlic, meaning it produces scapes (flowers) in late spring. These should be removed to concentrate growth into the bulb. See the note on scapes below for ideas on how to eat them.
Ajo Roja does not store very well, usually starting to turn at around 5 months. It can be peeled and frozen for up to 18 months. It seems to show some resistance to rust. It’s been the last one to be affected, and goes down a little slower than all the others. That said, it still goes down.
I’ve been growing my stock of Ajo Roja continuously in Northland for 5 seasons now.
Reportedly bought to the gumfields of Doubtless Bay in the 1800’s by gumdiggers, Takahue is the most reliable garlic we have.
It produces large bulbs with white skins and purple stripes. It can get so big you’d swear it was elephant garlic. But it’s not. It’s a soft-necked garlic, meaning it can be plaited and stores well.
Taste-wise, it’s pretty close to what you’d get from the supermarket. It’s easy to peel and work with in the kitchen too.
A good one to start with if you’d like to supply your household with reliable homegrown garlic throughout the year. We’ve been growing it for 5 years now.
The best for smaller gardens or containers as it has a smaller footprint and matures in 5 months, rather than the standard 6.
A pure-white hard-necked garlic with surprisingly chunky cloves for its size. It will also produce scapes in late spring which you can cut off and use in cooking. Usually quite easy to peel.
As a hard-necked garlic, it’s difficult to plait and doesn’t keep well. It often starts shooting first, ready for a new season’s growth. It can be peeled and frozen if you want to keep it past autumn.
This is my fourth season growing White Rocombole.
The New Guys
Sourced from Nelson in 2021, Kakanui did not do great in it’s trial year, but it produced a few OK bulbs even through rust so we’re going to try again!
It’s a soft-necked garlic, with smaller cloves than my other varieties. The skins have a reddish tinge. It probably won’t be on sale in 2023, but maybe it’ll surprise us.
Grown for the first time in 2021, Spanish Red outperformed everything else! It came to me from Blue Terrace Garlic in Dunedin, and I highly recommend favouriting their TradeMe profile page if you are looking for seed garlic.
In my garden, Spanish Red came out white. We’ll be growing it on again to see what happens.
Early Purple Rocombole
The only experiment in 2022. Sourced via Setha’s Seeds, I’ve been wanting this one in my collection for years.
A companion to ‘White Rocombole’, it should also take 5 months to mature. Hard-necked with light purple skins.
Sourced via Mitre 10 in 2021, Russian Red was the first commercially-sourced garlic I’ve ever grown that actually worked – even despite rust in 2021.
It was a bit slow to start, but produced good-sized bulbs with large cloves and has earned a spot in the collection.
How to grow garlic
Everything I know about planting garlic
In this post, I try to think of everything I do before planting to make my own grows successful.
Includes prepping your soil, selecting seed cloves, when to plant, spacing, and tools.