Avoid planting the Creole types of soft neck, as they are not winter hardy and do not store for any length of time. Hard neck garlic does have a hard flower stalk around which fewer but larger cloves huddle.
Hardier than many of the soft neck garlic, it is an excellent choice for zone 6 and colder regions. Hard neck garlic is divided into three major types: purple stripe, ramble, and porcelain.
German Extra Hardy,, Music, and Spanish Rosa are good choices of hard neck garlic plants for growing in zone7. The idea is that the cloves need to be planted early enough for them to grow a large root system before winter sets in.
If you have missed the opportunity in the fall, garlic may be planted in the spring, but it usually won’t have very large bulbs. To trick the garlic, store the cloves in a cold area, such as the refrigerator, below 40 F. (4 C.) for a couple of weeks prior to planting in the spring.
Mulch the garlic bed with straw, pine needles, or hay once the ground begins to freeze. When temps warm in the spring, pull the mulch away from the plants and side dress them with a high nitrogen fertilizer.
Prune off flower stalks if applicable, as they appear to channel the plant’s energy back into producing bulbs. When the plants begin to yellow, cut back on the watering, so the bulbs will dry out a bit and store better.
In the mid-Atlantic (PA to NC) and large areas of the Mid- West (roughly climate zones 5 -8) we plant mid-October to mid-November. Planting too early results in too much fall leaf growth which is damaged by winter cold.
Plant unpeeled cloves root side down at proper depth approximately 6" apart. Plant in well-drained soil with lots of organic matter, a neutral pH, and good fertility.
Fall, not spring, is the best time to add compost or other fertility amendments. As the weather warms, control weeds and maintain even moisture.
Late winter and early spring is when your garlic is starting to really grow. They have lost the ability to produce top sets, hence the center of the bulb has a soft braidable neck.
Soft neck garlic are more productive, more widely adapted, have better storage quality, and are easier to grow than hard neck garlic, but they are slightly less cold-hardy in extreme northern areas. Artichoke types are the largest, most widely adapted, and most productive, typically with 3-5 layers of cloves that give the bulb a lumpy appearance.
Silver skin types have smooth, usually white bulb scales. They produce the most uniform and attractive bulbs, and are therefore popular for braiding.
Cloves tend to be held tightly in the bulb and do not separate as easily as those of the artichoke type. Starter Package: Soft neck garlic is sold by weight rather than clove count.
Culinary Notes: Ramble garlic are enjoying a renaissance: gardeners and gourmet restaurants are discovering the merits of many varieties previously unavailable. We especially enjoy using the fresh green tops as an ingredient in salads.
The cloves of ramble are large and easy to peel, and as a rule they are more diverse in flavor than those of soft neck garlic. They do best from Virginia northward (north of latitude 37 degrees), but some widely adapted varieties can be successfully grown in southern areas.
Ramble garlic produces bulbs that divide underground to produce cloves in the same manner as soft neck garlic, but unlike soft neck garlic, ramble sends up a scale (flower stalk) which coils into a 180-degree turn, then straightens out to produce a cluster of bullets (top sets) at the top of the stalk. Coiled stalks can be removed and dried for use in flower arrangements.
Each week the scale remains after this stage causes a yield reduction of approximately 5%. Starter Package: Ramble garlic is sold by weight rather than clove count.
Unlike most artichokes types, the stems are hard neck; however, in warm climates, they may revert to soft neck. Very early maturing, they size well even without the removal of escapes (flowers).
The flavor is rich and creamy when lightly baked, and very hot and spicy when raw. Doesn’t store for long usually starts to sprout before fall planting.
Starter packages: Asiatic garlic is sold by weight rather than clove count. Culinary Uses: Elephant garlic is mild and sweet enough to be sliced raw and served in salads or steamed as a vegetable with butter and bread crumbs.
The large cloves are easy to peel, grate, dry, and prepare. Storage: Withstands temperatures well below freezing and has a shelf life of at least 10 months when properly stored.
If you are looking for winter herbs to keep your culinary garden productive all year long, we’ve got a great list for you. Common thyme (T. Vulgaris) is the most widely available variety sold in nurseries and garden centers.
Thyme is a member of the mint family and is a hardy perennial that can survive a deep freeze. Give your thyme a sunny location and well-draining soil, and it will continue to grow all year long.
It is a low growing spreading in form, so give it a larger space in the perennial herb garden. It grows in a small bush with grayish tightly held leaves.
These include Orange Balsam, Woolly, Creeping Pink, Juniper, Lime, Mint, Elfin, and Lavender Thyme. Mint is another easy to grow herb that performs well in a winter garden.
Mint is used in desserts, teas, jellies and vegetables, and main courses like lamb. Flavored mints, like chocolate or orange, are becoming more readily available in local garden centers.
Mint is a hardy perennial which means it survives over the winter months without added protection. It is a natural spreader and can quickly take over your garden when left to grow unchecked.
Mint prefers rich, moist soil and partly sunny location. If mint is grown in too much sun, it can dry out the soil too quickly and fry the leaves.
Move the pot into a shady location, keep the soil moist and more often than not, the plant will come back. Oregano is considered a tender perennial, so while it can overwinter in the garden it may need some protection in colder climates, depending on the variety.
If you want to add oregano to your winter garden, use the following as a guide based on your growing zone. Common Oregano (O.vulgar) is the mildest of the bunch, but also grows the best in colder temperatures.
Greek Oregano (O. Vulgare Hiatus) is another popular culinary variety but is most often grown as an annual. Grow French tarragon in full sun and water only occasionally as it prefers slightly drier soil.
If you plan to use tarragon in the kitchen, be sure to get the French variety (Artemis dracunculus) Russian tarragon is easier to grow from seed but doesn’t have the same intense flavor as its French cousin. Hollow tall green stalks grow in clumps with bright purple or blue flower balls on top.
Lemon Balm is a hardy perennial that grows to about two and a half feet tall. Grow lemon balm in a moist, sunny location in the garden.
Both flat and curly leaf parsley grow well in cooler weather. Grow parsley in moist soil and a partly sunny location in the garden.
Common sage (Sylvia officials) is cold hardy and will grow in zones 5 or more. But sage is equally nice in sausages, Italian meats, and cheeses or even as a condiment.
Sage has light grayish green leaves and is best when used fresh, so harvest just before you are ready to use it. A mature plant will spread up to 2 feet wide, so give it ample space in the garden bed.
A low growing bushy herb, winter savory is a good addition for the border of the garden. Winter Savory has a strong spicy flavor and can be used in the same dishes as oregano, thyme, and basil.
It is a nice choice to plant in smaller areas since it grows just one foot tall. Add fresh leaves to season fish, salads, stuffings sauces, and eggs.
Due to the airy nature of this herb, keep it protected from high winds. These will stay green year round and while they may not grow much in colder weather, you can still harvest them in moderation for use in recipes.
Bay and rosemary are also evergreen herbs that may overwinter outdoors with a little extra protection. Chives and parsley can stay green well into the fall depending on your gardening zone.