Garlic O’Plenty | A Quick Guide to Garlic for the Garden

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Hardneck Garlic – (Allium sativum ophioscorodon)

Harneck garlic is one of two categories of garlic (the other is softneck) and is recommended for northern climates due to its need for a long dormant period, which ensures hardy bulbs and better flavor. The bulbs of hardneck garlic generally produce 4-12 cloves in beautiful, rosy hues. Hardneck garlic’s flavor ranges from potent to complex. The bulbs produce long, green stalks known as scapes during the spring and the scapes, which should be removed to promote vigorous bulb growth. Garlic scapes can be used in cooking and are perfect for game meat, vinaigrette and intense infused oils.

Each garlic category has separate varieties. The varieties of hardnecks are Purple Stripe (Marbled and Glazed Purple Strip), Porcelain and Rocambole.

Purple Stripe  (Recommended types)

Persian Star- known for their beautiful white paper skins and purple tipped cloves (8-10). The cloves are mild with a gentle spicy flavor.

Chesnok Red -the cloves are sweet when roasted, mellow but full garlic flavor. The skins are white and thin with purplish undertones. The bulbs generate 8-10 cloves.

Marbled Purple Stripe

Central/Northern Siberian – the bulbs (white-skinned with pink to purple undertones) produce 5-9 cloves. Perfect when roasted, the cloves are creamy with mild garlic flavor. If eaten raw, the cloves are very spicy.

Metechi – the bulbs (white, thin wrappers with a purple undertones), produce 5-7 cloves. The cloves are very spicy. This type stores well.

Glazed Purple Stripe

Purple Glazer – the bulbs have paper-thin skins with purple undertones featuring with tan to silver streaks. The bulbs can produce 8-10 cloves. The sweet cloves are good for eating raw or the entire bulb can be roasted. The skins are easy to peel and the bulbs store well.

Vekak – The bulbs can generate 10-12 cloves and the wrappers are thin and white until but becomes purple toward the interior.  It stores well. The cloves’ skin are brown or tan, and the bulbs can be roasted or eaten raw. It has a sweet but mild garlic flavor.

Porcelain

Romanian Red – the bulbs have paper wrappers which are light brown streaked with purple. Each bulb produces 4-5 cloves and they are very hot with a strong garlic  flavor. They store well.

Georgian Crystal – the bulbs (vigorous and hardy) are generally quite large and produce 25-30 cloves.  This type is one of the few hardnecks that can be grown successfully in southern states if given a little care. The wrappers (surprisingly durable) are white and tinged with streaks of light purple. The cloves have mild but rich flavor.

Rocambole

German Red – the bulbs which are brownish with purple streaks, produce 8-9 cloves. The cloves are rich and have a hot, spicy flavor that lingers. This type does not store well.

Amish – the bulbs which are brownish with purple streaks and produce 8-10 cloves. The cloves are a bit hot and spicy. This type does not store well.

Softneck Garlic – (Allium sativum sativum)

This category of garlic is generally found in supermarkets. It has a mild flavor and matures quicker than the hardnecks. This category is perfect for the southern garden and most types store well. However, the cloves can be very hard to peel in certain varieties. The cloves are used in mostly in prepared dishes, dressings and seasonings like garlic powder. The bulbs are also perfect for braiding.

Artichoke

Inchelium Red – the bulbs are typically large and can produce 10-12 cloves. The skins are white and durable. The cloves have a mild, rich and lingering flavor that is intense if eaten raw.

Sicilian Gold – the bulbs are typically large and can produce 10-12 cloves. The skins are white and durable.  The cloves have a mild flavor and are delicious raw.

Silverskin

Nootka Rose – the bulbs have thick, creamy white skins and produces 15-20 cloves. The cloves are mahogany-colored with red streaks and have a very bold, garlic flavor.

Silver Rose – the bulbs have thick white skin with rosy streaking underneath.  The bulbs produce 8 – 12 cloves. The cloves have a rich garlic flavor but it is not pungent. If the bulbs are stored long, they have a tendency to become spicier, especially if eaten raw.

I would be amiss if I didn’t mention Elephant Garlic – Allium ampeloprasum.  It is actually part of the leek family and has no cultivator. The bulbs are extremely large and can weigh up to one pound. It produces 5 cloves once it matures but does not store well. It has a very mild, onion like flavor and is excellent roasted, used in sauces, vinaigrette and stir fry.

 

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Five Shrubs For Your Winter Garden

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(Photo by Pixabay.com)

For gardeners like me who live in a cold climate, the thought of the upcoming winter season can feel you with apprehension or dread. Winters here in New York state are brutal and long. The snow-covered landscape is barren and devoid of color. However, with prudent planing, your garden can provide an abundance visual appeal in winter for both you and wildlife.

Here are a few shrubs that I highly recommend for the winter garden

(Photos provided by Julie Makin, Wilflower.org and Kathy Zuzek, UMN Extension)

Common Serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea): Hardy in zones 4 to 9, the berries of the shrub change from red to blackish-purple in late summer. The berries are a viable food source wildlife and are also safe for human consumption (used in pies, jellies and jams). The leave range from gold, orange or red during fall, providing a spectacular visual show. During the winter, the long woody branches creates a stunning form, especially after a fresh snowfall.

 

(Photos by Pixabay.com)

Cranberry Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster apiculatus): Hardy in zones 4 to 7, this small shrub is versatile and easy to maintain. The plants produce red to orange berries from late summer well into winter, producing berries  that are a viable source of food for wildlife. The leaves provide a lovely showcase of colors ranging from bronze to red to purple in the fall.

(Photos by By Sage Ross – Own work, Creative Commons) and Pixbay.com

Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii): Hardy in zones 4 to 8, the leaves can range from red, burgundy, yellow, orange, green and gold, depending on the cultivar. The berries, which are consumed primarily by birds, are typically bright red. In the fall, the leaves die back and expose thin and woody stems. In various states, certain cultivars of barberry have become invasive due to the disbursement of seeds consumed by birds, so investigate what varieties are best for your area before purchasing.

(Photos by Pixabay.com)

Snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus): Hardy in zones 3 to 7, this bush produces green to white berries from late summer to fall. The leaves stay green until they die in fall, so it offers no visual stimulation in the autumn. However, the white berries remain on the woody stems during winter (since they are unappealing as a food source to birds) and the whiteness of the snow only accentuates its wintertime beauty as a blank canvas.

(Photos by Julie Makin, Wildlife.org)

Winterberry (Ilex verticillata): Hardy in zones 3 to 9, the prolific female plants produce fruit that range from orange to red to yellow. The fruit are a main food source for birds and small mammals, but are NOT meant for human consumption. After the leaves have died back, the woody stems expose the remaining fruit. The effect is quite stunning against the snowy backdrop.

 

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Making Fragrant Potpourris

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During this year’s growing season, I have been actively drying and saving various flowers and foliage to create garden crafts for the holidays. One craft in particular that I truly love is making garden potpourri.

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I craft several different types from dried flowers, fruit and various herbs. Each mix has it’s own fragrant and wonderful bouquet. But my all time favorite is a mixture of rudbeckia and sunflowers. The vibrant colors and scents give me an instant boost during the winter months.

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Listed below are a few suggestions to create your own unique potpourri, which is a very fun activity to do with children:

Allspice

Cinnamon sticks

Citrus Peels

Cloves

Lavender

Mint

Rosemary

Roses

Rudbeckia

Scented Geraniums

Scented Salvia

Sunflowers

Zinnias

 

 

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Fall Gardening

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In my home garden, I recently finished sowing seeds and transplanting seedlings for the Fall growing season. I truly enjoy the freshness and quality of Fall’s seasonable vegetables and fruit. I am looking forward to the abundance of nutritious stocks I will be making at summer’s end, which will bring delicious flavors to warming soups and stews this winter.

(Gardadibble – Seed Planting Tool) http://www.Gardadibble.com

This year’s Fall garden will include the following:

Florida Broad Leaf Mustard
Danvers Half Long Carrots
Tokyo Long White Bunching Onion
Broccoli (Chinese)
Sugar Snap Peas
Dinosaur Kale
Little Marvel Dwarf Peas
Purple Top Turnips
Mini Greens Blend Lettuce
Detroit Red Beets
Space Hybrid Spinach
Georgia Collards
Ferry’s Round Dutch Cabbage
Broccoli Rapini
Dwarf Blue Kale
Gourmet Salad Blend Lettuce
Zermatt Leeks
Toy Choy Hybrid Pak Choi
Patricia Radish
Parade Onions
Early Jersey Wakefield Cabbage
Bright Lights Swiss Chard
Scarlet Nantes Carrots

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A Dream Come True: Anna’s Garden Design

Anna's Gardening Antics & Musings

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Hello my gardening companions. As you know, gardening and design are my true passions; my purpose. So, I am super-excited to announce the launch of my new garden design site, aptly named Anna’s Garden Design. This is a dream come true for me after years of study, real-world experiences and many personal sacrifices.

Basically, I provide an online garden design service based on my clients projections of their dream garden landscapes. I offer everything from basic design consultations to a full-scale site designs. Using information provide by clients, I create virtual designs and offer specific recommendations so that homeowners and business can create their own sanctuary entirely online, without the usual hassles or expense.

I would love for you to stop by my new site, Anna’s Garden Design , and let me know what you think. As always, I thank you for your time and support. Take care!

P.S. The…

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It’s Broth Making Time….

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Adapted from my sister blog, Anna’s Gardening Antics and Musings…

Hello my friends. I hope you are well and enjoying this beautiful and bountiful summer season as much as I am. Fall is rapidly approaching, however, so I have began planting for the season with crops such as kale, lettuce, chard, spinach, collards, turnips and root vegetables.

Fall is undoubtedly my second favorite season, mainly because of the vibrancy in color of falling leaves, the cool and crisp air, the smell of wood burning in fireplaces and, of course, warm and hearty soups and stews. I prepare my soups and stews with delicious bone broths I create around the end of September from homegrown vegetables and pasture raised/grass fed chicken and beef bones I purchase from local farmers.

In addition to creating delicious soups and stews , I also use bone broth when making rice, certain pasta dishes or have a cup when I am feeling poorly or in between meals. It is a perfect remedy to warm you on a brisk, winter day. I typically make three batches; beef, chicken and vegetable over a week’s time due to the long cooking times required and I freeze my broths.

I am including basic recipes for the bone broths I make each year. Again, the only variations I make is using grass feed chicken and beef bones I purchased from a local farmer instead of store brought for nutritional purposes… However, you can use whatever you have on hand:

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Beefy Bone Broth:

5 pounds of beef knuckle and short rib bones (will a small amount of meat still attached)
4 quarts of water
3 carrots cut into large chucks*
3 celery stalks cut into large chunks*
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
3 small onions (halved)*
1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar
2 bay leaves
1 medium sized leek, trimmed and cut into chunks*
1 head garlic (halved)*

*leave the vegetable peelings attached to add additional nutrients

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Place the bones in a large pot of cold water; add the apple cider vinegar and bring the bones to a boil and continue cooking for 15 minutes. Then drain, the bones and pat them dry. Place the bones on a large roasting pan and place them in the oven for about 1 hour. Make sure they are browned well before removing. Remove the bones from the pan an place them in a large stock pot along with your veggies Add your reserved water making sure the bones and broth are completely submerged. Add your seasonings and bay leaves. Bring to a boil and scum off any residue that emerges at the top.

Bring to a low simmer and cover. I generally cook my stock over 24-36 hours depending on the bones sizes and flavor intensity I am looking for. During the cooking process, I continue to skim off extra fat and scum floating at the top.

After the cooking process is complete, I slowly and carefully strain the mixture through a large piece of cheesecloth, into a container which has been submerged in a bed of ice (in the kitchen sink). The idea is to cool the broth down rapidly. I then pour the broth into individual containers (I use recycled take out plastic soup containers), label, date and freeze them.

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Chicken Bone Broth

4 pounds of chicken bones (backs, necks, feet)
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 large onions (quartered)*
3 carrots chopped into large chunks*
3 celery stalks cut into large chunks*
1 garlic head (halved)*
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
6 quarts of water
3 sprigs each (fresh thyme, parsley) – optional

*leave the vegetable peelings attached to add additional nutrients

Place the bones, vegetables, seasonings, vinegar and water in a large stock pot. Bring to simmer, cover and cook 24-36 hours skimming fat and residue from the top occasionally.

After the cooking process is complete, I slowly and carefully strain the mixture through a large piece of cheesecloth, into a container which has been submerged in a bed of ice (in the kitchen sink). The idea is to cool the broth down rapidly. I then pour the broth into individual containers (I use recycled take out plastic soup containers), label, date and freeze them.

I highly suggest you try making your own bone broths. It takes a bit of time to make them, but you will not regret it. Take care!

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My Love Affair with Tomatoes….

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As the end of summer approaches and the first frost looms not far behind, I usually began to get a bit anxious about harvesting and preserving my summer vegetables. In particular, homegrown, ripe tomatoes. I truly love tomatoes and have been known to hoard as many as possible for preserving to enjoy a taste of summer during the brutal winter months.

Every year, I grow an abundance of tomato varieties from seeds started indoors then hardened and transplanted outside after the last frost. In my area, USDA Zone 6B, I keep them protected with homemade cloches until the outdoor temperatures are warm and steady. As the plants grow, I typically pinch of the suckers and create new seedlings by placing the cuttings in a shady, moist area of my garden I generally use for outdoor propagation. The cuttings usually take root after a couple of weeks and then I plant them in the main garden or give them away to friends and family.

My favorite methods for preserving harvested tomatoes are canning and drying/dehydrating. However, I occasionally dig up my plants and bring them indoors to hang up in a cool, dry area to allow the green tomatoes to ripen at the end of the growing season. Another method I use is to pick the best green tomatoes from the plant before the first frost and bring them indoors. I gently place them on a tabletop in a cool, dry area, making sure they do not touch each other. This allows them to ripen slowly in a protected environment over the winter.

I have included a few of my family’s favorite recipes below. Happy Gardening!

Tomatoes and Rice Bake

3 large tomatoes (peeled and sliced)

1 cup of cooked white rice

1 teaspoon of chopped fresh parsley

1  large sweet pepper, finely chopped

1/2 cup of fresh, grated Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons butter

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Liberally coat a baking dish with extra virgin olive oil, then add a layer of the slice tomatoes. Sprinkle with a bit of the grated cheese, then cover with a layer of cooked rice and peppers. Continue layering until the dish is full ending with the topped tomatoes. Place small pieces of the butter on top, then cover with foil tightly. Place the dish in the preheated oven for 20 mins. Remove the foil and bake uncovered for and additional 15 mins. Remove carefully from the oven and sprinkle the fresh parsley on top. Serve hot.

Butter a baking dish; put in a layer of tomatoes; sprinkle with sugar, and cover with rice and peppers. Alternate the layers until dish is full, having the tomato on top. Dot with the butter; bake (covered) three-fourths of an hour; uncover and bake for quarter of an hour longer, serve hot.

Stewed Tomatoes, Corn and Okra

3 large tomatoes

4 cups of okra, trimmed and cut

1 cup of fresh corn kennels

3 tablespoons of sugar

1/4 cup of green pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon butter

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1 medium onion, peeled and diced

3 slices of bacon

Place tomatoes in a rapidly pot of boiling water for 1 minute, then remove them carefully. Gently peel off the skin of the tomatoes and place them in a large pot along with the onions, pepper, sugar, salt, pepper and butter. Cover the pot and boil on medium heat for 15 minutes or until the tomatoes are tender, stirring regularly.

In a heated sauce pan, add the bacon slices and cook until crispy. Then add the bacon and rendered fat to the pot of stewed tomatoes along with the okra and corn. Continue cooking for an additional 15 minutes then remove from the heat. Serve hot in a bowl  or over a bed of hot, buttered cooked rice.

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