Suppliers are being increasingly
adventurous with garlic varieties and we
have put together
a list to help you choose your stock for
this season. If you are a supplier of garlic
or know of a supply that might interest other
growers please contact
us with details. Most of the suppliers
listed below took part in the RHS garlic
trials and should
have the varieties listed available for dispatch
as the season dictates.
Confused about varieties? Here's a quick
refresher . . . . .
Garlic, Allium sativum L., is a member of
a very large genus (over 500 species) of
cultivated plants which includes onions,
leeks, shallots and chives as well as other
wild and ornamental species. The cultivated
forms of garlic are thought to have descended
from the wild species A. longicuspis,
A. tuncelianumand perhaps A. macrochaetum and
to have originated in the mountainous regions
of Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan
- typically arid areas with minimal rainfall
and long, hot days. Wild Allium species still
found in the region are weakly competitive,
typically growing as patches of small populations
on rocky, open sites and having long growing
periods, taking between three and ten years
to reach maturity.
Early travellers to the region were introduced
to the remarkable curative, antiseptic and
culinary properties of wild garlic and as
they took bulbs with them on their journeys,
so the plant became more widely distributed
and cultivated outside of its native region.
Over the past ten thousand years garlic has
been subjected to intense domestic selection
under a wide range of growing conditions
and this has led to the creation of many
hundreds, if not thousands, of clones.
There have been many attempts at classification
but today it is widely accepted that cultivated
garlic divides into four distinct groups
- the ophioscorodon group in the cooler,
wetter conditions of northern Europe, the
sativum group in the warm, fertile areas
of the Mediterranean and the sub-tropical
and pekinese groups of the Indian sub-continent
and China respectively.
Horticulturally we recognise only two distinct
groups - ophioscorodon (Allium sativum
var. ophioscorodon) - often referred to as hardneck
or topsetting garlic due to the fact that
it produces a flower stalk, and the sativum
or softneck garlics (Allium sativum var.
sativum) which generally do not produce flower
stalks. The wild longicuspis and more primitive
varieties are typically included with the
hardneck group as Purple Stripe and Porcelain
varieties while the softneck group encompasses
the pekinese and sub-tropical clones within
its wide classification as Asiatics.