Italian Garlic: Everything You Need To Know


Italian Garlic is one of the most popular spices in the world. Compared to other garlic varieties, the spicy Italian garlic is hotter than most. Its spectrum of flavors ranges from spicy to sweet. Although its flavor is slow to warm up, it creeps up on you with a burst of heat and then fades quickly. Its aroma is also very pungent.

If you love the taste and aroma of this garlic, growing it is an excellent way to enjoy this tasty variety of garlic while also enjoying its beautiful flowers. In this article, we’ll look at its origins, how it is grown, and the planting requirements of these small, fragrant cloves.

What Is Italian Garlic?

Italian garlic is a species in the onion genus, Allium. It is a close relative to shallots, leek, onion, and chives. This garlic variety is native to Italy, with several thousand years of human use and consumption history. The Italian garlic variety yields 6-10 plump cloves per bulb.

Types Of Italian Garlic

There are many different varieties of Italian garlic- especially in the Southern states with varying flavor profiles. Some great garlic varieties include:

Purple Italian Garlic

Botanically classified as Allium Sativum variety ophioscorodon, this garlic is an heirloom rocambole hard neck garlic.  This garlic variety is ready weeks before most other garlic cultivars are. Additionally, its bulbs have a longer storage life, providing their unique flavor well into winter. The purple Italian garlic flourishes in mild climates. It produces large cloves that are easy to peel, making it a favorite with chefs. Each bulb contains approximately 8-12 large cloves that are wrapped in deep russet purple-skinned wrappers.

Italian Red Porcelain

Italian red garlic is a hard neck garlic variety with a great garlicky taste and excellent storing capabilities. In addition, Italian red garlic is very heat-tolerant, making it one of the most popular varieties grown throughout the United States. . It can be planted in the spring for a fall harvest. Incorporate plenty of compost chopped leaves or any other certified organic matter and loosen your soil deeply. Italian red garlic produces large attractive bulbs containing 10 to 12 easy-to-peel cloves with the right growing conditions.

Lorz Italian

Like most softnecks, This mid-season artichoke heirloom is the perfect choice for those who like their garlic hot and spicy. Brought from Italy around 1850, the Lorz Italian garlic produces large bulbs that yield 12-19 cloves. The cloves are easy to peel and often exhibit purplish tints on the skin.

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How To Grow Garlic

This garlic is relatively easy to grow and tastes infinitely better when it’s homegrown. It performs exceptionally well in U.S. hardiness zones 3-8. For best performance, we highly recommend planting your garlic in the fall. Fall planting is highly recommended for its cooler temperatures which work well for proper root formation.  For fall planting, make sure to dig furrows where you will plant the garlic and sprinkle the furrows with some compos, well-composted manure, soybean meal, or organic fertilizer.

The steps involved in garlic planting include:

Prepare Your Seed

Generally, garlic seeds should be planted right before your first frost date in the fall. First, prepare your garlic seeds by breaking apart all cloves from the garlic bulb.  Be careful not to damage the outer skin of the cloves. Next, soak your cloves in a jar of water for 2 hours before planting. Consider adding some seaweed fertilizer to this water to prevent fungal diseases.

Prepare Your Garden

Garlic bulbs prefer well-drained soil with a neutral pH (6.8-7.0). The soil should be well worked to allow it to send down deep roots. Raised beds work well for garlic, especially in areas with rainy spring weather that leads to waterlogged grounds. Garlic plants also need full sun to flourish. When grown in a shady area, it reduces the size and quality of the bulbs. So make sure to choose the sunniest spots in your garden for the best results.

How To Plant Garlic

Separate your garlic bulbs into individual cloves. Choose the larger cloves for planting. Put them 2 inches deep in the ground and 6 inches apart with the pointed part facing up and cover them with soil. Lightly water the plant before covering it with 3-6 inches of mulch such as dry straw, hay, or a mixture of shredded leaves and grass clippings.

Mulch is critical when planting garlic and will do several things:

  • It helps keep the ground moist and warm so that the cloves will develop roots
  • It protects your garlic from winter freeze-thaw cycles
  • Mulch also prevents weed growth

Once you’ve spread your mulch, leave everything ver the winter. In early spring, shoots should be poking through the mulch. If it is a wet spring, pull the mulch aside until the garlic plants have emerged.

Nurturing Your Garlic Plants

When nurturing garlic bulbs, keep weeds under control during the growing season. These weeds compete with your garlic plants for water, space, and nutrients. So it would be best if you control them by cultivating them often or using mulch to prevent their seeds from germinating. While at it, avoid disturbing the soil around the plants when weeding. Water your plants regularly, especially during the dry periods. This will promote rapid, uninterrupted growth.

Monitor For Pests And Diseases

White rot is a common problem among garlic growers. It causes black spots and decay on bulbs. This rot spreads in infected soil and water and is extremely persistent in the soil. To protect your plants from white rot, avoid leaving decaying bulbs in the soil. Also, practice a strict 4-year crop rotation.

Harvesting Garlic Bulbs

When the lower leaves of your organic garlic plant start to bend or dry out, the garlic is ready to harvest. Once this is observed, let the soil dry out first before harvesting. When more than half the leaves are dried, dig around the plants to pull out the bulbs. Brush off the excess soil and allow them to dry in the sun for a few hours.

Curing your Italian garlic

Trim the bulb roots and braid leaves together or remove them. Hang or spread them out in a well-ventilated area for 2-3 weeks until the tops are thoroughly dry.

Storing Italian Garlic

Once the outer skin of your bulbs turns papery, you can store them in a cool area with good airflow. With the right storage conditions, the bulbs can keep for up to 10 months. Note that Italian garlic’s flavor intensifies with storage.

Related Content:

Garlic Varieties: The Complete Guide On All Types of Garlic
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When and How to Harvest Garlic




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