Black garlic is NOT a variety of garlic but the result of a process of cooking garlic. One that continues long enough to make it a tasty black blob inside the clove wrappers. There are several ways to make it, most of which can be found on-line. One option we've seen is using a slow cooker for a month and a half. We do not process garlic.
Your shallots and garlic bulb order will ship after it has been harvested and cured so that it doesn't sweat and begin to mold in the shipping container. Most shipments will go out from early September through mid-October. Please open the box when it arrives so that the garlic and/or shallots can breathe. Pre-orders are accepted based on planting volume.
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Yes to both questions! No preservatives or anti-sprout chemicals have been applied to anything we grow.
Each variety in the store is listed with as much taste information as available. However, everyone's taste buds are different. When there are taste-testings it is quite common for a group of people to sample a garlic and have a wide variety of descriptions of taste and hotness. Also, growing conditions will affect the taste so that each growing season may produce a slightly different taste in the same variety. Curing methods affect taste as well. Generally the longer a bulb is cured and stored the stronger the flavor, within limits.
Generally the variety choice will determine a range of sizes. This can also be affected by growing conditions and time of harvest. Sometimes in the range of +/- 50-80%. Your soil type and fertility play an important role in size and quality. When you plant also has an effect. Fall plantings usually grow the largest. The size will be related to your farming methods. No guarantee is made about the size of bulbs you will get or of the quality of your crop.
The general range is listed in the variety descriptions. Assuming disease-free, varieties that are harvested first are usually stored the shortest and eaten first. See below for ripening order. However, growing conditions, timing, and storage conditions and methods will determine YOUR success. Wrapping in plastic at room temperature will substantially shorten the storage life. We usually either hang them in onion bags or open paper bags in the basement or first floor in a cooler location. We keep the paper bags open for a few months and then close them. Not more than a few pounds per grocery bag. If we have left the stems on we will hang them in bunches on a rack in the basement. Keeping the stems and leaves on until you want to use them will help with storage length and bulb quality. If you trim the bulbs, the longer the stem piece the better. Some customers have had luck keeping bulbs in a porcelain garlic pot or a closed lunch bag in a dry part of the kitchen. Temperature and relative humidity play a major part in extending storage periods. Generally the most favorable conditions are: Temperature 45-65º F and Relative Humidity 40-60%. The lowest temperature combined with the highest humidity within that range will work the best. We have had customers tell us that their garlic sprouted in the refrigerator. Early ripeners will usually last through the winter holidays. Medium storing usually into early spring. Long storing will almost make it a year. HOWEVER there is one major factor that will change these statistics and it is something that few people are aware of. Cells of the garlic plant have a normal growth pattern that helps it to last long and to protect itself. Not counting radiation treatment, this can be changed in at least two ways by the grower of the garlics. Quickly forcing the plant to grow very very fast and unusually large by the use of a seriously high level of fast acting nitrogen and/or the use of chemical high speed growth hormones will cause the cells to energize for size and not to slowly build up their usual self protections. That doesn't mean large bulbs are bad as long as they are grown properly and not subjected to unnatural and bizarre chemical reactions. Would you really want to eat a garlic that was fed these chemcals? Try internet searching for "exploding watermelons" to see some actual chemical examples.
See individual variety details for a general idea. The groups will mature within a general range and individual varieties will vary widely within that range. The rule of thumb for variety maturity sequence is as follows, early to late: Turban-->Asiatic-->Weakly Bolting-->Artichoke-->Rocambole-->Creole-->Glazed Purple Stripe-->Purple Striped-->Marbled Purple Stripe-->Porcelain-->Silverskin
We have been growing organically all our lives. We learned sustainable and healthy growing methods from Jerome Rodale and, later, Robert Rodale through Organic Gardening Magazine. This was long before the current government logo of USDA Organic Certification. The requirements for organic certification using their logo have been determined by the government. To be certified under CNG those standards are also included in the CNG requirements. Our standards here at Ambrosia are generally higher than those. We don't use any pesticide sprays that are allowable under the USDA plan. That includes all our fruits as well as the garlic, vegetables and hay. There is a link to the CNG website on the links page for further information.
When should we plant garlic and shallots?
Usually a good time for both is a few weeks after the average first frost date. Garlic in the wild has shown that it is very versatile with natural environmental factors. We have planted earlier and had plants grow 12" before snow cover and had a good crop. We have had years where we chipped holes in the frozen soil surface and dropped the cloves in the holes and had a good crop. In the upper midwest many customers plant around Columbus Day or a little before. Try your own local research project to see what results. Garlic is a very forgiving crop, not counting major disasters.
The colder your winter weather the more protection the cloves will need to prevent them from being forced up, flopped over sideways or twisted during rapid cycles of warming and cooling of the soil. Generally a few inches of soil, max, and 4-6 inches of organic mulch will provide adequate protection. Six inches of soil cover generally is too deep. Once they are buried under a layer of snow the cloves will also be protected from sharp temperature cycles. Without snow the mulch layer is even more important so it is recommended also for growing garlic in the South, though sharp temperature cycles are less likely. Shallots have similar requirements but are planted a little more shallower. About a half inch deep from the top of the clove itself. A tiny bit of stem cover/skin may be peeking up out of the ground at planting time but the solid part of the clove needs to be below ground. About 2-3 inches of mulch will do after planting.