Garden Notes: Street now smells of ‘stinking roses’ again

The “stinking rose” is back. Our street is redolent with its fragrance. This is the time of year when gardeners revisit their stash of stinking roses, also known as their garlic.

Creatures who fear garlic are said to have Alliumphobia. Bram Stoker and Hollywood movie makers call them vampires. Very few Blair County gardeners grow garlic just for its protection from vampires. One or two gardeners I know poke a hole in a clove, put a cord through the hole and wear it as a winter necklace. They think it keeps hugs and other gropings away during flu season. The rest of us just eat it.

There are two subspecies of garlic. Hardneck garlic does well in our sometimes frigid winters. Softneck garlic likes the weather south of the Mason-Dixon Line. I’ve grown Hardneck garlic in white, purple and purple stripes, although the one I rely on is a Racombole garlic. The “Garlic Lady” Helen Starzeski, gave us our first seed heads. I like growing Racombole because I know it’s going to survive the winter and there’s a value-added bonus.

Hardneck garlic produces scapes. They’re screwy, curly, bright green stems that suddenly pop through the leaves. They’re sometimes called garlic shoots or serpent garlic. Cooks value them because of their mild flavor and have developed recipes around them. Pesto, risotto, soup and salad recipes abound.

The other subspecies is Softneck Garlic. Look for varieties like California Early and California Late. Over the years, Softneck garlic has morphed into strains used in the production of dehydrated garlic but is also sold fresh. Its mild flavor, soft neck and smaller bulbs make the leaves easy to braid. The bonus with soft neck garlic is it’s decorative. Every Italian with a cooking show has a braid of garlic lurking somewhere in her kitchen.

Elephant garlic isn’t really garlic, but a type of leek with impressive size cloves. Its flavor is milder than garlic and can be slightly bitter.

Mother Earth News printed a special edition this summer. A Guide to Cooking with Garlic and Other Tasty Herbs. According to MEN, US citizens consume “a decent amount of garlic — about two pounds each year per capita.” Throughout the world garlic is not only used in cooking but in medicine too, and that pushes the capital consumption closer to a hard-to-imagine twelve cloves of garlic per person, per day.

Dave Crowley has been a judge at the renowned annual Garlic Festival in Cuba, New York. He’ll present a program titled Grow Your Own Garlic on Saturday, October 21 at the Monastery Community Gardens, 793 Monastery Road, Hollidaysburg. The program will begin at 10:30 a.m. Dave will review several types of garlic and explain how to prepare, plant, care for and harvest the bulbs. According to the poster, participants will have the opportunity to get their hands dirty by planting the garlic for the Monastery Community Gardens.

Do you suppose blessed garlic will save us from garlic breath?

Contact Teresa Futrick