Growing garlic in Western Australia

Page last updated: Tuesday, 13 September 2016 - 10:05am

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There is often confusion on the names of the numerous garlic varieties sold on Australian markets because the varieties are often renamed with local names. Garlic can be grouped into soft-necked and hard-necked varieties. DNA studies have revealed that all garlic varieties are closely related to only 10 distinct varieties. Garlic is thought to have evolved in central Asia around Kazakhstan or Western China.

Soft-necked varieties

The soft-necked varieties generally produce larger bulbs and higher yields than hard-necked varieties. Side-shoots may break through the outer skins and produce unmarketable bulbs. This can occur in high temperatures and when too much nitrogen has been applied. Planting too early may also increase side-shooting. Varieties differ in their susceptibility to side-shooting.

  • California Early is a medium to late-maturing variety with white skin and 16 large cloves per bulb; selections include Virginia, Murray Bridge and Dry Veg.
  • California Late is a small, white, late-maturing variety. It has the best storage.
  • Italian White 1 is a medium to large, white-cream variety with 22 cloves per bulb. It stores well.
  • Italian White 2 (St George) is a medium to large, white-pearl variety with about 10 cloves per bulb. It stores well.
  • Printanor is becoming more popular and is a leading variety in France and New Zealand. It is medium to large, white, with about 15 to 20 cloves per bulb. It stores well and has a rich flavour.

Hard-necked varieties

Hard-necked varieties generally produce fewer and larger cloves per bulb than the soft-necked varieties. They may produce bulbils, which are small cloves formed in the stem or on top of the stem. These can be used as a source of planting material when bulking up a new variety.

  • Glenlarge is an early large-cloved purple variety with 6 to 12 cloves and suitable for warmer areas.
  • Italian Pink is the main variety grown in WA and is medium-sized with thin, pink-purple skin. It matures early and produces about 12 cloves per bulb. It stores well for five months.
  • New Zealand Purple is medium-sized with strong, white to purple skin, producing about eight cloves per bulb. It is easy to clean.

Elephant garlic Elephant garlic

Giant Russian or elephant garlic (Allium ampeloprasum) is related more closely to leeks and is not a true garlic. It has a mild flavour and splits readily. It has a very large solid bulb, with three sides and five cloves.