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Elephant Garlic

August 14th, 2014

Last week I harvested my elephant garlic. The regular garlic was harvested about a month ago and is curing in the top of the garage. This garlic is much larger and takes longer to reach maturity. Last fall I planted three cloves, which was all I received in my order from GrowOrganic.com. Each of these produced 7-9 cloves and now I have lots more to plant this fall.  I may eat a few, but I might forgo eating them to expand my collection.
elephant garlic 1
Elephant garlic isn’t technically garlic, at least not the same as what we think of as garlic. It’s a variety of the common leek that forms bulbs, much like the perennial leeks that I grow. It produced the most beautiful flowers, purple spheres that tower above all the other plants. I forgot to take a photo of them in the garden, so you’ll have to imagine what they look like standing 4 feet tall.
elephant garlic 2
This is a great alternative to the giant alliums that are grown for their flowers, mostly because they are much cheaper. Bulbs for giant alliums can be $25 for three bulbs and they don’t always come back each year. Elephant garlic is especially nice since it multiplies readily, making it easy to amass quite a number of them in a few short years. If you live in one of the states where decorative allium bulbs cannot be sold, you can grow these beauties in their place. While the flowers aren’t quite as big or as showy as the alliums, they give the same effect in the garden.

Do you have any edible alternatives to ornamental varieties to recommend? 

3 Comments to “Elephant Garlic”
  1. Nebraska Dave on August 14, 2014 at 8:43 am

    Susy, I’ve never tried to grow garlic or leeks. My onions that I started from seed oh so long ago have turned out great. I started them in February and planted them outside in May. They actually have survived all the extreme weather we had this year. There’s only about a dozen or so and they out performed the onion plants that were planted along side the seed starts. I’d never grown onions from seed before and will be expanding the onion patch for sure next year.

    Your blog is the first I’ve ever heard of growing vegetables for the beauty of the flowers. I will have to consider that for next year. Who’d a thought that vegetables have beautiful flowers. Potatoes are starting to bloom here and that means the boiling pot will be ready to quickly scamper from the garden to the pot for freshly dug potatoes. My potatoes are growing in one raised bed in the backyard so the dash to the boiling pot won’t be that far. I got hooked on the Monty Don freshness thing when I tried it last year. My gosh garden potatoes are so wonderfully tasty when fresh from the garden.

    Have a great elephant garlic day.

    Reply to Nebraska Dave's comment

  2. Sarah on August 14, 2014 at 10:13 am

    I’ve been growing elephant garlic for the flowers lately too. The first year we ate them but didn’t love the flavor, and my husband swore they gave him heartburn.

    Here in Texas they are one thing that you can stick in the ground and it will grow strong without water or pampering, and the flowers are really amazing. People always ask me what those cool flowers are.

    Reply to Sarah's comment

  3. Sarah on August 21, 2014 at 4:09 pm

    I grew up growing elephant garlic. These days, I stick to true garlic, because it is stronger, but you are right about those flowers. They are gorgeous!

    Reply to Sarah's comment

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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