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Forgotten rounds

November 25, 2011

While sorting out the garlic harvest last year, there were a handful of smaller heads that were almost perfectly round.   I didn’t think much about it at the time; some are probably still in the stash in the basement.

Apparently I left a couple of smaller ones on Lizzie’s porch; at some point later either Mrs cohutt or I moved them out of the way and onto the rustic “pipe stand”.  They have remained there since July, dry under the cover of the porch roof but enduring the heat of the afternoon sun through summer and even a couple of mild freezes in the last 2 weeks.

A couple days ago I looked into their hiding spot and noticed one had changed a little;  the dry stained brown “skin” had split.  One appeared to be shedding its skin. Odd:

I removed both for closer inspection and found that they were shedding their dry skins; they had survived the harsh conditions and were actually sprouting as the weather cooled.

This normally wouldn’t be that unusual as I a lot of the cloves I’ve planted recently had begun to sprout. In this case though, the cloves weren’t there. These consisted only of a single garlic ball or “round”.

I hadn’t seen “regular” garlic rounds before although I did have an elephant garlic round result from the initial crop last year. (I brought it in to investigate but it was consumed before I figured out what it was; mrs cohutt thought it was an onion and sliced it before realizing it wasn’t.)

So what is a garlic “round”?

A single planted clove sprouts in the fall and adds foliage slowly throughout the winter into spring. As weather warms, the clove (more like a bulb now) begins to swell underground but remains undivided into new cloves. (At this point it can be pulled as “green garlic” and consumed before cloving.) Usually the cloves develop before the foliage begins to die off in June/July and “normal” heads are harvested at that point.
Sometimes though, the cloves don’t develop before the foliage dies off. My understanding is that an early heat wave that lasts more than a few days can cause some bulbs to do this; the heat is what causes to foliage to brown/dry and if it happens before cloves are formed the process just shuts down at the “round” stage.

So is this a bad thing? It depends on what you want. A round has the same flavor as a clove from a fully developed head, so if you hate peeling cloves then….
Also, a round is said to have a longer storage life than a normal head.
Finally, a round can be saved and planted the following fall and usually results in large heads of garlic than those grown in a single year from a single cove.

We will see; these are planted as of this afternoon.

I think these are hardneck, which makes sense due to the fact that most hardnecks do better in cooler climates. It seems logical that the early heat of the south might cause some cloves to develop only into rounds.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 26, 2011 4:30 am

    Amazing how they survived all that time.

  2. November 26, 2011 12:02 pm

    Very cool. I had never heard of a garlic round. I planted those shallots today. Here’s hoping.

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