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Learning About This Elephant Garlic Stuff…..

May 22, 2012

This is the second year I’ve harvested elephant garlic, the colossal cloved “fake” garlic. I call it fake because it technically isn’t true garlic; it is a member of the leek family, aka garlic’s cousin. I purchased seed stock from in the fall of 2010, a single pound which only amounted to maybe 6 or 7 cloves. I saved most of the modest harvest last year for seed and as of this past weekend have around 2 dozen freshly pulled plants ready to cure.

Wagons ho!:

I’ve figured out some things, mainly that the annual harvest brings elephant garlic in 3 distinct stages of development.

In reverse order:

The third or complete stage, a fully finished head of elephant garlic with distinct and divisible cloves (ie the type you would purchase @ market). The heads below are for the most part fully developed (with the exception of the small co-joined “round” one at the very top). The second from the top was obviously ready some time back, but it will be fine since the cloves store pretty long on their own.

These will hang and dry/cure for a few weeks and then be ready to store and/or eat as needed/wanted.

The “second” or intermediate stage of elephant garlic is what is classified as a “round”. A round is a large round bulb that has yet to divide into cloves; these look like hard smooth onions when cured and are just as edible as the cloves albeit they sometimes have a stronger garlic flavor (“stronger” subjectively on the milder elephant garlic scale but barely registering on the true garlic scale.)

With rounds you have two choices; you can eat them as noted or you can replant them in the fall where they will develop into very large and healthy fully cloven heads the second year.

The “head” on the right is definitely a round; it has no neck and its top is floppy like an onion @ harvest:

Why did I have any rounds vs 100% fully developed heads? It seems that a small % of cloves take longer to develop and mature (sort of like sons, eh mother?) and a few rounds are to be expected.

The “first” stage of elephant garlic is the “corms” stage. These are the odd, hard shelled little clingers that are found in the roots of mature elephant garlic heads and they are the certain way to grow “rounds”. These can be immediately replanted (some recommend to do so with their tips nipped to pierce the hard outer shell); in their first year they will develop into single rounds. As previously noted, the rounds will become full bulbs in their second season, completing the two year cycle from corm to mature bulb.

Corms in the roots:

I collected all the corms, or at least the ones that came up with the roots (I’m sure there are some left behind in the beds.) My best guess is I have about 75 corms to plant or give away.

Any takers?

10 Comments leave one →
  1. Mike permalink
    May 22, 2012 11:17 pm

    I planted garlic for the first time last October. It’s growing very tall and seems to be doing fine. I can’t wait until harvest to see how it turns out. After trying my hand at this little patch, I’m going to put a lot more in the ground this fall.
    I’ll take some of those corms off your hand

  2. Bill permalink
    July 14, 2013 10:03 am

    this year I had about 40 elephant garlic plants with the flowers..I was trying to figure out the little clingers..I have about 100 of those I will nip the tops and replant them thanks for the info!

    • July 14, 2013 2:30 pm

      Heads up, germination is slow and often doesn’t occur until the second year.

  3. Dennis permalink
    April 16, 2014 6:51 pm

    First year of growing elephant garlic in Arizona. All came up good, 8 have thrown buds which I too off. They are now growing new leaves. Common or not? The remaining have just leaved out, no bud. Again is this common?

    • April 16, 2014 8:03 pm

      All of mine put up a scape, or central stalk that eventually produces a bud then flower if this is what you are talking about. Even though flowing comes at the expense of the final bulb/clove size, I let one or two go ahead and flower just because I like the way they look. The others I snap off the scape (stem) when fairly small / tender and saute them all together in olive oil for a treat.

  4. Liz permalink
    June 14, 2016 9:58 pm

    So if plant the corms this year and pull up the rounds next year do I immediately replant the rounds or do you dry them and plant them the following garlic planting time?

    • June 15, 2016 5:55 am

      I’d try both ways.
      Remember that they will only grow into a round (a single clove bulb that has yet to divide) the first year. If the round is left in or harvested and then replanted the next fall with the normal planting, it will develop into a full multi clove head the second year.
      I’ve had mystery elephant garlic plants sprout in areas that I haven’t planted cloves in a couple of years, so leaving them in the ground obviously works to some extent. I prefer to remove all and replant from cloves in order to control spacing. I still have corms that I’ve saved and meant to replant but 6 years later have just replanted from the cloves harvested as with normal “real” garlic.
      I have tried drying and then planting at the normal time and found the case around the corms to be so hard that is doesn’t always sprout in the fall when replanted. Soaking might help and/or perhaps nipping the tip of the corm’s case with shears before planting.
      Experiment, it is what backyard gardening is all about. πŸ˜‰

    • June 15, 2016 7:41 pm

      I just re-read your message, the question was about the rounds and I answered the corms.

      I had some smaller cloves my first year that only grew into rounds. I didn’t realize they had not split into cloves until it all had been dried. I replanted in the fall with the larger cloves I’d saved and they did well. I’ve also done this with hardneck garlic rounds.
      I don’t thin there will be much difference since they wouldn’t re-sprout until it cooled off either way.

  5. August 26, 2016 8:01 pm

    Hi there! thanks for this information – I’ve been researching how to grow garlic and this has been the most helpful article on corms I’ve come across yet πŸ™‚ Wondering if you still have any corms you might be interested in sharing? I would love to do a seed swap if so. I’ve got tons of veggie, herb, and flower seeds. Have been wanting to try growing garlic for ages! πŸ™‚

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