A Sunny November Afternoon

The sun was shining today, so we grabbed the opportunity to plant some garlic and carry on with the autumn tidy up.

Recent morning frosts claimed the last of our late summer planting of Czar runners. Before the frost hit, the dense foliage hid some fat bean pods, we always miss some, they’re too tough for eating but the beans inside are fine for cooking fresh.

While Rich got on with cutting down the runners I plunged 60 cloves of our home-grown Red Duke garlic into the soil, wished them well, then tucked them in for winter. I love the smell of garlic, especially when it meets the soil.

Red Duke is our favourite variety of garlic to grow. Over the past 2 years of growing it we’ve now accumulated enough of our own garlic for planting, with plenty of bulbs left over for kitchen use before harvesting the new crop next summer.

We decided to try another variety of garlic this year too, Caulk Wight is a purple striped garlic found in Russia and Eastern Europe. The seed garlic should be arriving soon which means more planting to look forward to!

If you’d like to learn how to grow your own garlic, take a look at our garlic growing guide https://thegardensmallholder.wordpress.com/2014/11/14/how-to-grow-garlic/

Pick of the Crop, Our Choice of Garlic to Grow

red duke garlic

Red Duke Garlic is a heritage variety with fierce and spicy flavour, it originates from Moravia, Czech Republic and appears to do well in the UK climate. Attracted initially to the colour and the idea that it may do well in our kitchen garden, we liked it so much we included it in our growing plans again for this year. Here’s a run down of our experience of growing this variety:

red duke garlic

  • Red Duke garlic produces very thick leaves and stems, thicker than any other garlic we’ve grown. With this in mind and to avoid disease from overcrowding, do not plant this variety too close together, 16-18cm apart should be fine.
  • The leaves really bulk out and cast a lot of shade resulting in fewer weeds. Result!
  • Red Duke is a hardneck variety, expect to see scapes in summer – lovely in a stir fry!
  • Good resistance to rust, only a few spots found on leaves just before harvest.
  • No sign of fungal/rot problems on the bulbs at harvest, nice clean bulbs.
  • Bulbs varied in size producing more large than small, approx 6/7 large cloves per bulb.
  • Thick covering of white skin after drying properly, because of this Red Duke stores surprisingly well for a hardneck. We still have useable bulbs from last years crop.
  • Lovely strong and spicy flavour.

There’s still time to pop some Red Duke garlic in if you didn’t get around to it during autumn.