What is Elephant Garlic?
Closely related to leeks, elephant garlic has a couple of similarities and differences when compared to regular garlic. Similar to leeks in appearance it contains a tall flowering stalk with flat leaves but has a bulb that forms large garlic-like cloves. Much like onions, the immature elephant garlic plants can be topped off or cut off in order for more plant energy to focus on the bulbs. However, the flavor profile of elephant garlic is much more similar to regular garlic than leeks. The elephant garlic contains a milder flavor than garlic and can sometimes taste better when used raw in salads and other dishes.
Growing Elephant Garlic
On this week’s episode, Greg is explaining how to grow elephant garlic in the vegetable garden. In the South, we struggle with growing garlic because of our harsh weather temperatures. Due to these temperatures, we have better success growing elephant garlic in the vegetable garden. We recommend planting onions about 4 to 6 inches deep and around 16 inches apart between rows. This allows for plenty of space to easily manage weeds in between the rows using our Single or Double Wheel Hoe. It is important to manage the weeds in the garden because they will compete with the elephant garlic roots for nutrients in the soil that is needed for growth. Greg is going to plant his elephant garlic on 22-inch rows using his row maker. Once the rows are marked off, he will take his Double Wheel Hoe with the plow set attachment and make furrows to plant the elephant garlic. When planting elephant garlic he will space them about 8 to 12 inches apart and they should always be planted with the blunt end down and the pointy end in the upright position in the vegetable garden. After all the elephant garlic has been planted in the furrows, Greg takes the Double Wheel Hoe with the plow attachment in the hilling position and covers them up along the vegetable garden. The elephant garlic will take around 90 days before it is mature and ready to harvest in the vegetable garden.
Harvesting Elephant Garlic
When it comes time to harvest elephant garlic you are able to get a one time harvest in the vegetable garden. The elephant garlic is normally twice the size of regular garlic when it comes time to harvest in the garden. Once the bulbs on the leaves begin to die back and bend over that is a key indication that the elephant garlic is ready for harvest in the vegetable garden. After harvesting all the elephant garlic from the garden they should be stored away to cure in an area that is shaded and dry like underneath a barn. To maintain the best storage life and flavor profile, elephant garlic should be kept in a cool area with no sunlight until ready to be used for cooking. Elephant garlic has a shorter storage life than traditional garlic so it should be used within a couple of weeks for optimal flavor. Along with storing away elephant garlic, we are able to save cloves for the next growing season in the vegetable garden.