Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

Andy's photo of his emerging Elephant Garlic has given us the opportunity to discuss its growing habits in more detail.

I've had a quick gallop among my blog posts hoping to find one I'd already written. Maybe I have and I just don't have the patience to scroll through them all.

Anyway ... pasting the two responses from under Andy's photo:

'Right Andy - Elephant Garlic has a 3-step life cycle. The big bulbs you planted are the end product although other parts of the life-cycle are edible though you do eat your planting material that way. There's the 'rounds' a 1-bulb plant and the 'little yellow jobs' tiny hard-shelled things which when planted next season give you 'rounds'. Then the 'rounds' give you the big multi-bulb plants. One reason I suspect why Elephant Garlic is so much dearer is the fiddlyness of the growing cycle.' and

'So Elaine does that mean that the plant needs to be pulled up after the first season or can I leave them in the ground (as I did last year). I think I have probably lost them now. Why don't they sell the 'rounds' attached, you would think it would save them some time, give us more garlic and we could cut out one step out, saving time to our final harvest? Has anyone seen seed being sold for Elephant Garlic?'

At this stage I don't have pix but I'll root about the internet to see if I can find any.


1. Big cloves give rise to rounds and little yellow jobs.

2. Rounds give big cloves you prefer to eat. Although rounds are quite edible.

3. Little yellow jobs give rounds.

Start anywhere in the cycle but we usually start with big cloves because that is what is usually available to buy. And no Christa, I have not seen Elephant Garlic seeds but then I have not been looking for them. And yes, pulling them up when they die off is the best way to keep them; insoil over summer is almost guaranteed to rot them.

They don't necessarily uniformly go 1, 2, 3! Of course not! Traps for young players ;-)

The little yellow jobs are often up in the stem or hanging off around the bigger cloves. Pull them off, keep the biggest for planting next season and eat the rest. The shell is hard and needs cracking although planting them with shell intact is best to prevent rotting.

The rounds are just one clove at the bottom of the greenery. Pull, eat any excess and keep the rest for planting.

General notes about keeping Garlic: Once the plants start to die off, pull up before the outer coverings split.

Keep in a cool shady dry place until the entire plant has died.

Remove any soil by brushing and do not wet.

Keep the roots on at all times until just before eating or planting.

Leave the stems minus leaves on the plant to store.

Store where there is some air circulation and it is coolest.

Some cloves will dry out, just discard them and if it's the usual kind of Garlic, avoid using cloves from that knob to replant. Try some selection for performance even though it is a 'clone' all individuals will have minor but important differences.

PS: I've not tried very hard and have found a good photo of the 'little yellow jobs'. Link to the original post.

And this is the closest I can find to a 'round':

And a bonus I've not met before. 'Scapes' are found in specialty greengrocers. I believe some Asian traditions use them. The ones for sale that I have seen were grown in China.

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Comment by Elaine de Saxe on May 14, 2017 at 2:44

The conventional Garlic is the simplest to grow. The soft neck varieties that we grow keep around 9 months, far longer than the hard neck varieties from colder climes. Although from memory, the Elephant Garlic does keep very well for the 12 months you need Garlic until the next crop comes in.

Comment by Andrew Cumberland on May 14, 2017 at 1:22

Thanks heaps Elaine. 

If I get anything edible this year, I might even have another crack at Glen Large. 

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on May 13, 2017 at 22:36

Got it in one, Andy! The little yellow jobs can be eaten too you can get quite a stack of them.

Well to me if you eat the greens, you reduce the size and number of your cloves. The leaves make the food for the plant. The 'scapes' are the flowering-stalks and ditto with reduction in cloves. The commercial growers who sell scapes do that for a living so they are not harvesting the cloves the way we would.

Comment by Andrew Cumberland on May 13, 2017 at 21:56

Elaine – can I check the following please:

“Little yellows” get stored and planted next May to make “normal rounds”;

“Normal rounds” can be eaten; or

Stored and planted next May to make multi-round bulbs. 

The "greens" can be eaten like leeks. 

Comment by Andrew Cumberland on May 13, 2017 at 8:28

Thanks so much Elaine.  I'm gunna come back and digest this article at length. 

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Vetiver grass helps to stabilise soil and protects it against erosion.  It can protect against pests and weeds. Vetiver is also used as animal feed. (Wiki.)

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