Friday, March 02, 2007
Strolling in the garlic forest?
The picture is this year's crop of elephant garlic or Allium ampeloprasum. They won't be ready to harvest until July or August. But I was amused by this point of view. I've raised this batch over the years I've lived here. I got them from a gardener, years ago. I didn't have a yard, so I put a few of the bulbs in my father's yard. They've been growing and flowering there for 6 years while I lived in Aptos. Then, when Mr. C. and I moved to Elkhorn, I went by Dad's to see if I could find any bulbs. There were only 2 left. For the last 3 years I've been increasing their numbers. This year there are 15 plants, and I will finally get to have some elephant garlic this summer.
Elephant garlic has larger bulbs than regular garlic and a milder flavor. In fact the plant is more closely related to leeks. Don't make my mistake of growing both together as I couldn't tell one from the other until harvest. Also, a benefit to growing your own garlic year after year is that the plants become more adapted to your specific growing conditions, making stronger and bigger bulbs. Save a few of the biggest for planting next season.
Elephant garlic makes a lovely flower, but it's best to cut them out to get bigger bulbs. You can sauté the scapes (unopened flowers) in butter or olive oil.
Although, with the sniffles that have been going on here, I was wishing I had more now. Garlic is a good expectorant and helps with chronic bronchitis. Although I think if I grated it into honey (as is the recommended procedure for coughs), Mr. C. would run out of the house as if I was trying to poison him. I guess I'll just have to slip some garlic chives into his eggs for breakfast.