What is a garlic bulb?

Allium sativum and A. sativum var. ophioscorodon

I think we can all agree: the world just wouldn’t be the same without garlic.

This pungently potent vegetable is delightfully easy to grow. And as a natural pest and fungus deterrent, it makes a powerful companion to a variety of plants, from herbs and veggies to flowers and fruit trees.

Revered throughout antiquity for its cultural significance and healing potential, entire books and festivals have been dedicated solely to growing this vegetable – and many more to eating it!

Adding depth and flavor to countless savory dishes, these healthful bulbs can be grown and enjoyed in almost any climate.

Let’s find out why this centerpiece of gastronomy is an absolute must-have in your garden. Not only is it incredibly easy to grow and a delight to devour, there could be some healthy, healing perks in it for you, too.

What Is Garlic?

Garlic is deemed a cultigen – the species we use in the kitchen is not known in the wild, but evolved over millennia of human cultivation. Its closest wild relatives are native to the Asian steppes, with cultivation beginning some 7,000 years ago.

A bulbous perennial, garlic is a species in the genus Allium, with close cousins including chives, leeks, onions, and shallots. It grows 18-24 inches tall, and the head, or bulb, is a storage organ used for fuel reserves to prepare for adverse and wintery conditions.

Adaptable to many growing conditions, garlic is hardy in USDA Zones 4-9.

The flat, grass-like leaves and segmented bulbs are highly aromatic, and typically grown as an annual in herb and vegetable gardens.

After a few months, hardneck varieties form a flower stalk known as a scape, which is followed by large, umbel flowers. Softnecks occasionally form scapes as well.

If left to grow, the umbels – or flower heads – open to reveal showy, star shaped blooms in shades of pink and white. Blooming in late spring, they attract pollinators such as butterflies, bees, and ladybugs.

The seeds form into small bulbils, which look like tiny garlic cloves on the end of the scape. Genetically, these are identical to the parent plant, and there will be no cross pollination between different varieties grown together.

While you can grow from these seeds, propagation from mature cloves is the preferred method, having the best success rate and usually resulting in larger bulbs.

While growth is simple and straightforward, garlic’s signature taste is bold and complex – one of the reasons why it’s beloved in almost every global cuisine.

Generally, there are two different varieties of garlic to consider. Either softneck varieties, A. sativum, or hardneck varieties, A. sativum var. ophioscorodon.

Which is best for your garden? Let’s look at the differences.

Softnecks (A. sativum)

Often thought of as “true” garlic, softnecks account for most of what you’ll find at the supermarket. This is because they are more productive, easier to grow – especially in warm climates, and they store for longer.

They’re called softnecks because their above-ground stalks will flop over in the summer, a sign that they are ready to harvest.

The fun perk of softnecks? You can braid them together for kitchen use and decoration, after the bulbs are pulled and cured!

Within garlic’s sizable family tree, this category contains more groupings and cultivars. The kind you choose can impact certain traits – like color, bulb size, clove size, flavor profile, cold tolerance, and storage capacity.

Hardnecks (A. sativum var. ophioscorodon)

True to their name, hardnecks have stalks that will remain upright and rigid, even when they die back.

It’s harder to braid hardnecks, but you get a different bonus from this subspecies: the delicious scapes, or flower stems and buds, a culinary darling that we’ll get to later!

The rewarding payoff is more variety and depth of flavor and color, as well as larger bulb sizes, so it could well be worth the extra effort of growing these if you live in an appropriate growing zone.

While all types are reputed to have some powerful healing properties, there is a catch – you must consume it raw. This is because, when crushed, garlic produces a compound called allicin, which takes about ten minutes to develop.

Some studies, like this review from the Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine published in 2014, show that allicin exhibits powerful antibiotic and antimicrobial effects, such as killing bacteria, viruses, and fungi.

However, most of the allicin oxidizes quickly and antimicrobial properties dissipate – hence the need for quick consumption for maximum benefits. It also loses its effectiveness when heated above 140°F.

This means you won’t find these fantastic antimicrobial properties in dried powder, or even in cooked cloves from your own garden.

Nonetheless, something that’s so easy to grow, and with such amazing flavor, is truly worth your while!

Cultivation and History

Garlic has a long and storied history. An extensive, multicultural tale of epic proportions, in its wild form, it was first used as a food source by our foraging ancestors.

Domesticated and cultivated in the Middle East some 7,000 years ago, the ancient Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Chinese, Indians, and numerous others embraced it as an irreplaceable condiment, food, and even medicine.

The first recorded reference circa 1550 BC is found in the “Codex Ebers,” a medical text used by priests in ancient Egypt.

Purportedly grown in the hanging gardens of Babylon, the locals referred to it as a “rank rose” – a similar term of endearment used today is that of the “stinking rose!”

Here are some interesting historical tidbits:

In India, it was an important and powerful Ayurvedic remedy – Ayurveda being a healing tradition that is still practiced today, utilizing both food and herbs as medicine.

Egyptians encouraged its cultivation in order to improve immunity, strength, and wellness among the less-nourished lower class.

The ancient Greeks would give garlic to athletes to improve their strength and endurance.

Roman healers used it for treating infections, wounds, and much more.

Another surprising but wonderful thing? A lot of these uses are still valid today, supported by scientific research, and used by alternative practitioners and herbalists.

New Healing Herbs

For more information on the fascinating history of garlic, check out journalist Michael Castleman’s “The New Healing Herbs: The Essential Guide to More than 125 of Nature’s Most Potent Herbal Remedies,” available on Amazon.

Propagation

Garlic can be grown from the seeds; however, this method is considered difficult and unreliable.

Annual growth from cloves, the individual bulb pieces, is the preferred propagation method of both commercial growers and the home gardener.

From your our own harvested stock, use the largest bulbs for replanting and the smaller ones in the kitchen.

Purchased bulbs should come from your local garden center or reputable online garden supply vendors – and not the grocery store.

The ones from supermarket can grow. But they’re often sprayed with chemicals to prevent them from sprouting on store shelves. And they haven’t been hand-selected for disease resistance, size, and other characteristics that gardeners and farmers want for growing purposes.

Check out our cultivars section below for suggestions.

Choose large, firm bulbs free from brown patches, soft spots, or shriveling, and with the exterior paper tunic still intact.

How to Grow

One of the first crops to emerge in spring, garlic thrives in well-draining, fertile soil with a loamy texture, and requires full sun to produce the biggest bulbs.

Vernalization

Hardneck varieties require a period of vernalization (winter cold exposure) before or after sowing. The ideal conditions to stimulate bulb formation require exposure to 40-50°F temperatures for a period of 6-12 weeks over the winter months.

Vernalization occurs naturally in regions with cold winters, but in milder areas, several weeks of storage in the produce drawer of your refrigerator will provide the required temperatures and humidity levels.

Softneck varieties are better suited for growing in warm climates, but they also perform better with a period of vernalization. Refrigerator storage for 8-12 weeks before sowing produces the largest bulbs.

Look for bulbs that have been pre-chilled at the nursery to save time. These will be ready to plant.

Cloves can be planted in spring or fall, but bulbs from fall sown garlic tend to be larger with deeper, more complex flavors than those sown in spring.

Fall sowing is optimal in September and October in most regions, with the end of November being a typical cut-off date for planting.

Spring sowing is not recommended because bulb formation halts in hot temperatures, and garlic requires a long growth period. However, if you must sow in spring, March provides a small window of opportunity if your local conditions permit sowing at that time.

When sown in fall, plants lay down roots until the ground freezes. This late growing period gives them a nice head start, with explosive growth triggered by warm spring temperatures.

Photo by Lorna Kring

Till the soil deeply, and amend with plenty of compost or well-rotted manure.

Garlic must be grown in well-draining soil, and excessive moisture is the leading cause of disease. A raised bed improves drainage and can be beneficial in areas with high rainfall levels or heavy soil.

A pH of 6.0 to 7.5 is preferred, and lime should be added several weeks before planting if the pH is lower than 6.0.

Separate the bulbs carefully into individual cloves with the skins still intact. Set each one approximately 2 inches deep in the soil, with the flat end down and the pointed tip placed about 1-2 inches deep. Space 4-6 inches apart in rows, or grouped in pockets.

Plant a little deeper if heavy rains or heaving frosts might expose the cloves, and a bit shallower in heavy soils or when using a thick mulch after planting.

Once all the cloves are in place, fill in the rows or planting holes with loose soil and firm lightly. Avoid compacting the soil.

Fertilize only after growth starts in spring, then every 30 days until the end of May. Use an all-purpose fertilizer with an NPK ratio of 5-5-5 or 10-10-10. This is the ratio of nitrogen to phosphorus to potassium, the main macronutrients required for plants to grow.

Broadcast granular fertilizer over the bed, or work it in as a side dressing. Don’t over fertilize, as this can result in too much top growth with under-developed bulbs.

Bulbs require only moderate to average water levels, and benefit from a thick, 6-inch layer of dry mulch such as clean straw, evergreen boughs, or fern fronds added when you plant them.

In winter, mulch provides protection against cold temperatures and drying winds. In summer, adding a layer of mulch helps to retain moisture, maintains cool soil temperatures, and keeps weeds down.

Garlic tends to struggle in tropical and sub-tropical growing zones, due to excessive humidity, moisture, and rainfall.

In Zone 8 and higher, garlic can be grown year-round – conditions here are ideal for softneck varieties that require little or no winter covering.

In Zone 7 and lower, hardnecks are a better option, thanks to their cold hardiness. These varieties do require a winter mulch, to develop the healthiest plants.

Growing Tips

The following tips will help you to enjoy the best harvest possible:

  • Remove scapes before flowering to concentrate energy in the bulb. But don’t discard them – they’re delicious sauteed or stir-fried!
  • Prevent premature sprouting in warm spells with a thick mulch to keep bulbs cool.
  • Use mulch to keep weeds down, and hand weed between plants to avoid disturbing bulbs.
  • When a bit more than half of the lower leaves have yellowed, withered, and died, bulbs are ready for harvest.

Companion Planting

One of the most effective companion crops for the garden, garlic’s high sulfur signature is a natural pest and fungus repellent. And because it’s compatible with most plants, it makes an excellent crop to scatter throughout the garden.

It’s known to deter a variety of pests, including:

  • Ants
  • Aphids
  • Cabbage loopers
  • Codling moths
  • Deer
  • Fungus gnats
  • Japanese beetles
  • Onion flies
  • Rabbits

The list of plants known to benefit from garlic’s pest deterrent properties is long, and includes the following:

  • Beets
  • Berry canes
  • Cruciferous veggies
  • Carrots
  • Dill
  • Eggplant
  • Fruit trees
  • Geraniums
  • Kale
  • Kitchen herbs (basil, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, savory, and thyme)
  • Peppers
  • Roses
  • Spinach
  • Tomatoes

And there are only a few plants that don’t like to be near this pungent allium. In the garden (but not the kitchen!), keep it away from asparagus, beans, and peas – it can stunt their growth.

There’s no need to plant long rows as a companion – just intersperse bulbs in pockets throughout the garden to maximize its many benefits.

Cultivars to Select

What’ll it be, hardneck or softneck?

Softnecks

Here are a few of the main softneck subspecies to consider:

Silverskins

These silvery-white, thin-skinned softnecks are very easy to grow, with the best storage capacity of all types.

This kind produces tons of cloves with that trademark pungent flavor. They’re best for growing in warmer climates. And some varieties have a blush-red, rosy tint.

Recommended cultivars include ‘Creole Red,’ ‘Silverwhite,’ and ‘Nootka Rose.’

‘Nootka Rose’

‘Nootka Rose’ has a strong flavor and is exceptionally productive. Bulbs are available from Burpee.

Artichokes

These have thicker skins and many complex layers of cloves like an artichoke, from whence they got their name. They’re the kind you’re the most likely to stumble upon at the grocery store.

Milder in flavor than other types, it’s not uncommon for cultivars of this variety to have a purple or red hue.

As the hardiest softneck variety, this is a good option for growing in colder regions.

Popular varieties include ‘California Early,’ ‘California Late,’ and ‘Inchelium Red.’

‘Inchelium Red’

Pick up the pleasing flavor and medium pungency of ‘Inchelium Red’ from Gurney’s Edible Garden, available from Home Depot.

Did You Know?

Elephant garlic, the popular enormous roasting variety, is not actually a true garlic at all – it is in fact a subspecies of leek. However, these are planted and grown the exact same way as your typical garlic.

Big in size but with a mild, nutty flavor, elephant bulbs are available from Burpee.

Hardnecks

Here are a few of the main hardneck types to consider for your garden:

Purple Stripes

The oldest hardneck variety, these are showy with beautiful purple stripes and delicate, papery skins.

Very cold tolerant, but this cultivar is also better for warm climates than most other hardnecks.

Size and flavor at maturity can vary, though these tend to be average or small, with a moderate to warm flavor.

Recommended strains include ‘Purple Glazer,’ ‘Chesnok Red,’ and ‘Bogatyr’ (that last one is very hot and pungent!).

‘Chesnok Red’

For a bulb with medium flavor and mild scapes, try ‘Chesnok Red,’ available from Burpee.

Probably the most widely grown of hardnecks, these have less thick, more parchment-like skins, making them better suited to cooking. Thinner skins mean easier peeling – with cloves that fall right off the bulb and skins that come away with little to no effort.

The potential drawback here is that these less-protected cloves can be more vulnerable to bruising and damage during harvest.

They need to be handled quite carefully. Bulbs that crumble or fall apart easily have shorter shelf lives than those with intact cloves that remain attached to their original bulbs. ‘Rocambole’ is a variety you will probably want to eat up quickly after you pick it!

Some cloves have purple or red stripes or blotches of color, and this variety does best in cold climates.

Popular cultivars include ‘German Red,’ ‘Deerfield Purple’ (aka ‘Vietnamese’), and ‘Ukrainian Red.’

‘Deerfield Purple’

With a warm, rich flavor and moderate heat, ‘Deerfield Purple’ is popular for growing in cooler gardens. Pick up bulbs from Gurney’s Edible Garden at Home Depot.

Porcelain

This type is known for producing larger cloves with smooth, thick, and papery-white skins.

With a bold but moderate flavor compared to other types, these are known for their amazing longevity in storage.

Porcelain varieties may have the best cold tolerance of all, and they are ideal for growing in cold climates, but more difficult to grow in warmer locales.

Though rare, cultivars of this type sometimes exhibit blushes of purple and rose.

Recommended varieties include ‘Music,’ ‘Georgian Fire,’ and ‘German White.’

‘Music’

Fully flavored and among the hardiest, ‘Music’ is a highly sought after by home gardeners. Pick up bulbs from Burpee.

Managing Pests and Disease

Though trouble from pests is uncommon, garlic can suffer from various diseases. Look for resistant varieties when you do your shopping, and plant the appropriate type of garlic for your growing zone for the best results.

According to Michelle M. Moyer at The Plant Disease Diagnostic Clinic at Cornell University, the following are the most common diseases to watch out for when growing garlic:

Basal Rot (Fusarium culmorum)

Basal rot often shows as yellowing, followed by dieback of the leaves and/or a white growth around the bulb base.

A soil borne fungus, avoid planting wounded or damaged cloves, and rotate allium crops annually to reduce the chance of infection.

Downy Mildew (Peronospora destructor)

White spots and fuzz form on plants, hampering growth potential.

Downy mildew is usually the result of overly damp environments, or plants spaced too closely together. Provide excellent drainage, proper spacing, and adequate air circulation to avoid welcoming conditions.

Penicillium Decay (Penicillium hirsutum)

This fungal infection is the result of poor storage of seed stock, and planting wounded or bruised cloves.

To prevent an infection, dry your seed cloves thoroughly, using the methods that we’ll get to later in this article.

White Rot (Sclerotium cepivorum)

This disease is exhibited by fluffy, fuzzy fungal growth on the stem and bulb of plants that quickly causes them to rot and die.

Avoid re-sowing in plots with the disease if you notice an infection – white rot can last in the soil for two decades – and remove infected plants quickly. Heat treating seed cloves in hot water – “hot” meaning 100-115°F, but NOT over 120°F – can prevent pathogen spread.

Harvesting

The garlic harvest typically starts a few weeks after summer begins, if you have planted in the fall. Hot summer weather triggers bulb maturation, shutting down foliage growth in preparation for dormancy.

A couple of indicators will let you know when your bulbs are ready for harvest:

One is when a bit more than half of the lower leaves turn yellow and dry out. Hardneck varieties will have leaves that brown and dry, but retain an upright flower stem. With softnecks, all of the leaves will flop over as bulbs mature.

Or, you can dig up a couple of bulbs around mid-July and check their size. If they’re as big as you hoped, it’s time to pull them out!

After late July, there is very little chance they’ll continue to grow. You can wait until August or even September to see if they’ll get a little bigger, but it won’t be much. By September at the latest, it’s time to pull your bulbs no matter what.

To harvest, loosen the soil around and under the roots with a garden fork or hand trowel. Provide up to 12 inches of ease out from the plant stem to avoid damaging bulbs.

Gently grasp the neck of each plant close to the bulb and work it out of the soil. Avoid pulling hard on the leaves if the bulbs are resistant. Instead, work your fingers under the base of the bulb and gently lift to release from the soil.

Brush off any excess soil and clip roots close to the bulb to prepare for curing and storage.

Curing and Storing

Curing is the term for the thorough drying required for flavors to develop fully, and it helps to ensure a long storage life, free from discoloration and rot.

However, you can eat garlic as soon as it’s pulled. Just clean, peel, and enjoy – no need to wait to complete the curing process! Freshly harvested garlic typically has a milder flavor than cured bulbs.

You can even pull up whole plants in spring, preparing and eating the undeveloped bulbs like leeks. This is called “green garlic,” something you might see at restaurants or farmers markets, and it makes a delicious alternative to the bulb type.

Both leaves and immature bulbs are edible.

For long-term storage, try the following:

Bulbs can be dried whole with the scapes still attached and braided into attractive bunches. Or, you can clip them off after harvest – just make sure you leave 7 or more inches of stalk attached to the bulb, which will help it to cure by drawing moisture away from the cloves.

If the stalk still feels moist and pliant, allow bulbs to cure for another week or two before storing.

Hang tied bunches in a dark, dry area with good air circulation.

If you clipped your garlic instead, store it in loose piles in containers that permit airflow – preferably in breathable crates, boxes, or shelves. Bamboo steamers make handy storage containers for bulbs.

Photo by Lorna Kring

Curing can take anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks. Check the progress daily – once the paper-like skin starts to peel away but the cloves still feel firm, you’ll know they’re ready.

You can then cut off any leftover plant material and store as you like – in a dry basket in a cool, dark cupboard, or in a paper bag in the fridge.

And to make your harvest really last, do one last important step – sort your garlic!

Being careful to keep them intact and without breaking them up into cloves, set aside the largest heads in a dark and dry place for use as seed next year. Use the smaller ones in your cooking.

Recipes and Cooking Ideas

One of the best and most obvious reasons to grow it in your own backyard is for culinary purposes!

Here are a few cooking ideas to feature your homegrown garlic:

Crush, slice, mince, chop, or throw whole cloves into your desired dish for a punch of added flavor. Garlic makes a pivotal contribution to the flavor of soups, stews, and broths.

You can also roast whole heads, making them into a delicious spread for bread, or a garnish for protein dishes, roasted vegetables, or homemade pizza.

Garlic is a staple ingredient in pesto, along with basil, pine nuts, olive oil, and cheese. The flavorful scapes make an excellent addition, too.

You’ll love the rich, savory flavor of grilled vegetables with balsamic vinegar and garlic. Get the recipe .

For a flavorful side dish, these parsley mashed potatoes are the smoothest and the creamiest. Get the recipe now on Foodal.

For the ultimate French fry or veggie dip, try Foodal’s homemade garlic aioli – it’s full of delicious flavor.

When it’s game day, be sure to try these Italian-style wings with basil and Parmesan cheese. But make lots, they’re always a hit! You can find the recipe on Foodal.

Health and Healing

For the very best health benefits, enjoy the cloves raw as often as you can – it can be a challenge, though! Raw cloves can have an overwhelming flavor and heat, and consuming them might cause indigestion or stomach cramps in some individuals, so be cautious.

Some studies (like this one) have found, however, that a cold-water press of the cloves, such as in a warm or cold tea, can retain some allicin, and may work as a mild antimicrobial tisane. It would be nowhere near as powerful as the fresh stuff, though!

According to this study, consuming garlic regularly as a culinary herb provides allicin and other beneficial phytonutrients that may boost health and immunity.

The bulbs also contain another potent compound called ajoene, with some studies pointing to its anti-tumor and diabetes management possibilities.

A Note of Caution

The health information in this article is not intended to assess, diagnose, prescribe, or promise cure. Consult with your health care professional before considering any plant-based remedies for your health and wellness.

Among herbalists and alternative medicine practitioners, there is a lengthy tradition behind garlic’s use as a topical antiseptic, cold and flu fighter, digestive healer, and tonic – and it’s still employed by some naturopaths for combating various ailments, even stomach ulcers and parasites.

Quick Reference Growing Guide

Plant Type: Bulb, allium vegetable Water Needs: Moderate
Native To: Middle Asia Maintenance: Low
Hardiness (USDA Zone): 4-9 Soil Type: Rich and loamy
Season: Spring or fall Soil pH: 6.0-7.5
Exposure: Full Sun Soil Drainage: Well-draining
Time to Maturity: 240+ days for fall planting, 90+ days for spring planting Companion Planting: Roses, raspberries, herbs, vegetables
Spacing: 4-6 inches Avoid Planting With: Peas and beans
Planting Depth: 2-4 inches Attracts: Butterflies and ladybugs
Height: 18 inches Family: Amaryllidaceae
Spread: 6 inches Genus: Allium
Tolerance: Frost Species: A. sativum and A. sativum var. ophioscorodon
Pests & Diseases: Basal rot, downy mildew, penicillium decay, white rot Basal rot, downy mildew, penicillium decay, white rot Basal rot, downy mildew, penicillium decay, white rot

For Growing, Dining, and Healing

Getting more garlic into your life is easy enough already: you can just go to the store, bring some home, and cook it up, in whatever way and with whatever foods you like.

But it’s much more rewarding to grow it yourself, as many gardeners, farmers, and culinary enthusiasts have known for thousands of years.

With your own bulbs to enjoy straight from your yard, you can feel the amazing benefits, satisfaction, and ownership of having nurtured your very own plants – and oftentimes, growing your own makes for even tastier and healthier food!

What gardening, culinary, and healing experiences have YOU had with garlic? Let us know in the comments below.

Next up, here are a couple of related growing guides to dig into:

  • How to Plant an Autumn Vegetable Garden
  • The 19 Best Cool Weather Crops for a Productive Fall Garden

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Photos by Lorna Kring © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Product photos via Burpee and Gurney’s Edible Garden. Uncredited photos: . Originally published on May 5, 2016. Last updated on December 5, 2019. With additional writing and editing by Lorna Kring, Clare Groom, and Allison Sidhu.

About Adrian White

Adrian White is a certified herbalist, organic farmer, and health/food writer and expert. She aims to bridge the world of natural, holistic health and nutrition to the realm of organic foods, herbalism, gardening, and sustainability – or “Food as Medicine” – throughout her writing.

After salads, garlic is right up there for a crop everyone should try to grow. Pop a clove in the ground and wait; by next summer you’ll be proudly pulling up a bulb. It’s such deliciously good maths.

Of course there’s a world of difference between a tiny bulb with slivers for cloves and plump ones. Any garlic clove will grow over the winter, but what you want is something substantial.

Each clove must spend 30 days and nights below 10C for bulb initiation to occur. If garlic doesn’t have a cold spell you get a single bulb with no cloves, which looks much like a tiny white onion. Cold nights divide the bulb into many.

That is why you should plant garlic now: the autumn soils are warm enough to start growth. By December you should have a little green shoot poking out of the soil, but as the temperature drops the garlic slows green growth above ground and does its magic below.

In spring, when the days lengthen and the soil warms, the plant swings back into action. If you failed to pull up all your garlic from last year and find a flurry of small green spring shoots, don’t waste them – they are quite a pungent delicacy, to be used like chives.

Garlic likes rich, free-draining soil. On heavy clay it’s worth growing garlic on a ridge of soil. Plant bulbs 10cm deep, a little less on heavy soil, and in full sun. They should be 18cm apart in each direction, or in rows 30cm apart with 10cm between cloves. Squishing garlic together will result in very small cloves. It thrives on potash; fresh ash from Bonfire night can be worked into the ground before planting. I feed again in mid-spring with seaweed or comfrey to top up growth, but if your soil is in reasonable health, you need to do little to please garlic. In pots, feed it weekly from mid-spring, as the food source in shop-bought compost will have started to run out.

Garlic is little bothered by slugs or snails, but there’s a vicious allium leaf miner that shreds the leaves and lays pupae in the bulb – not pleasant, and best defended with Enviromesh net covering placed over the crop just after planting. Allium rust can be another problem; this over-winters on chives and spring onions. If you find orange pustules on the leaves of any of these, dig them up and wait a year before planting any alliums.

There are many varieties: anything that ends in Wight comes from the Garlic Farm on the Isle of Wight and has been selected to do well in our climate. I think hard-neck types have the best flavour: try ‘Bohemian Rose Wight’, from North Bohemia, or the beautifully marbled Caulk Wight. I’ve a soft spot for the soft-necked types, too, which tend to store longer: ‘Christo’ has a punchy flavour and ‘Picardy Wight’ does well in damper soils. As for ordering, I plant about 40 cloves to keep me in year-round supply. Each bulb has five to 10 cloves, depending on the variety.

My Garlic Looks Like An Onion – Why Are My Garlic Cloves Not Forming

Growing your own garlic is pretty easy. Home-grown garlic has a much richer flavor than what you’ll find at the store. But if you have no garlic cloves or your garlic isn’t forming bulbs, it’s hard to enjoy the harvest. Troubleshoot the issue to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Why Isn’t My Garlic Ready?

The simplest solution to a problem with bulb or clove formation is that your garlic plants simply aren’t ready. It takes at least 30 nights with temperatures lower than 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 Celsius) for good development of cloves.

If you pull up a garlic plant and see a small bulb or a bulb with no apparent cloves, it may just not be ready yet. Leave the rest of the plants alone and give them some more time. It isn’t until the last couple of weeks of ripening that you’ll actually be able to see the papery divisions between the cloves. That’s when you’ll know the garlic is ready. Before that the garlic looks like an onion.

Other Issues with Garlic Cloves Not Forming

In most cases, it is likely that your plants just aren’t ready to be harvested yet. But there could be some other issues causing the problem. For example, you may have chosen a variety of garlic that doesn’t work well in your climate. Some do better in warmer areas, while other types of garlic prefer a colder climate.

Extremes in weather can also cause garlic plants to be stunted, which may include a small, underdeveloped bulb.

Pests, including onion thrips and nematodes in the soil, may cause similar stunting. Nematodes cause tops to yellow prematurely and bulbs to deform, while thrips show up as white spots on the leaves.

Timing and patience are most important in getting a good harvest from your garlic. Make sure the plants will have enough cool nights to develop bulbs and cloves. But also look out for signs of pests that are stunting growth. And remember that you can still eat underdeveloped, so-called wet garlic. It is tender and flavorful and especially tasty when grilled.

Garlic, (Allium sativum), perennial plant of the amaryllis family (Amaryllidaceae), grown for its flavourful bulbs. The plant is native to central Asia but grows wild in Italy and southern France and is a classic ingredient in many national cuisines. The bulbs have a powerful onionlike aroma and pungent taste and are not usually eaten raw.

garlic cloveBulbs and cloves of garlic (Allium sativum).AdstockRF

Garlic plants grow about 60 cm (2 feet) tall. Depending on the variety, the long leaves typically arise from a short hard stem above the bulb or emerge from a softer pseudostem made up of overlapping leaf sheaths. The bulb is covered with membranous skin and encloses up to 20 edible bulblets called cloves. The spherical flower cluster is initially enclosed in a pair of papery tapered bracts; the bracts split open when the green-white or pinkish flowers bloom. Flower stalks sometimes arise bearing tiny bulbils (tiny secondary bulbs that form in place of flowers) and sterile blossoms. Garlic is usually grown as an annual crop and is propagated by planting cloves or top bulbils, though seeds can be also be used.

garlicGarlic (Allium sativum).A to Z Botanical Collection/Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

  • garlicLearn about the chemistry of garlic and why it causes bad breath and is good for health.© American Chemical Society (A Britannica Publishing Partner)See all videos for this article
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In ancient and medieval times, garlic was prized for its medicinal properties and was carried as a charm against vampires and other evils. The plant is used in traditional and folk medicine in many places, and there is some evidence that it may help prevent heart disease. Garlic contains about 0.1 percent essential oil, the principal components of which are diallyl disulfide, diallyl trisulfide, and allyl propyl disulfide.

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Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

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Saturday – April 06, 2013

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification, Edible Plants, Poisonous Plants
Title: Identity of plant that looks like green onions
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I have what looks like green onions growing in my lawn. They have small white flowers. Are they edible?

ANSWER:

There are several possibilities for this plant:

There are 3 varieties of Allium canadense (Meadow garlic) that occur in Travis County.

  • Allium canadense var. canadense (Canada onion)
  • Allium canadense var. fraseri (Fraser meadow garlic)
  • Allium canadense var. mobilense (Meadow garlic)

The other onion-like native plants occurring in Travis County are:

Allium drummondii (Drummond’s onion)

All of the species of Allium occurring in Travis County are edible. Here is an article, Wild Onion, from Texas Beyond History that gives the historical uses by native peoples in Texas.

Nothoscordum bivalve (Crow poison) looks very much like the Allium species. However, you can tell them apart by smelling them. The Allium species smell like onions or garlic—the crow poison smells musky. Also, crow poison has cream-colored flowers and the Allium has white, pink or lavender colored flowers. Is crow poison really a toxic plant? We don’t know for sure. For more information about the toxicity of crow poison, please read the answer to that question from a couple of year’s ago. Given the uncertainty about whether or not it is toxic, I recommend that you NOT eat it.

Zigadenus nuttallii (Death camas), however, is definitely considered poisonous. DO NOT EAT ANY PART OF IT! Here are links to a couple of toxic plant databases with more information:

Poisonous Plants of North Carolina says that Zigadenus spp. are “highly toxic, may be fatal if eaten!”

Plants of Texas Rangelands (Toxic Plants of Texas)

From the Image Gallery

Meadow garlic
Allium canadense
Canada onion
Allium canadense var. canadense
Fraser meadow garlic
Allium canadense var. fraseri
Meadow garlic
Allium canadense var. mobilense
Drummond’s onion
Allium drummondii
Crow poison
Nothoscordum bivalve
Crow poison
Nothoscordum bivalve
Nuttall’s death camas
Zigadenus nuttallii
Nuttall’s death camas
Zigadenus nuttallii

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Finally we arrive at one of the most important categories of ingredients in Chinese cooking. Where would we be without the holy trinity of Chinese aromatics that is scallion, ginger, and garlic? What sad and lifeless food would we be subject to?!!

Okay, so we’re being dramatic, but seriously, this page has got the low-down on some of the most important ingredients in our arsenal. Read on for enlightenment!

If you’re looking for more information on other Chinese Ingredients, go to our main Chinese Ingredients Glossary page to review the different categories and easily find what you’re looking for.

Scallions or Green Onions (香葱)

Scallions or 香葱 and pronounced in Mandarin as xiāng cōng is the most common and identifiable onion in Chinese cooking. In fact, just about all Chinese refer to it simply as 葱 “cong”. We say “scallion,” others says “green onion”…It’s all good, and whatever you like to call it, it’s the same ingredient whether it’s Chinese, Asian, Cajun, Mexican or some other cuisine.

We LOVE scallions–we buy it often and in large quantities, and during the summer we grow it in our garden. We just can’t get enough. When we think of scallions, we think of dishes like Scallion Ginger Shrimp and Scallion Pancakes, in particular, but quite literally, you can find this awesome allium in the majority of our savory dishes.

Here are some essential tips on how to buy, store and use scallions:

  1. Buy dark green scallions since it indicates that they are fresh. Scallions that have seen better times are generally yellowed and worst yet, a little slimy.
  2. Many markets sell scallions that have been in sitting in cold or iced water and sometimes water is sprayed on them to keep them fresh so sometimes they are quite wet. In this case, you should shake off the excess water and place them on a kitchen towel on the counter to dry out before storing them in the refrigerator. This definitely prolongs fridge life of scallions.
  3. You will find that some of our recipes ask you to separate the white and green portions of the scallions. Why you ask? The green portions are great for color and garnish and offer a milder flavor when added to finish a dish. The white portions will add a more sweet onion flavor when cooked.
  4. Follow our directions on cutting scallions because it matters! Lengthwise or julienned cuts are great for steamed fish and lo mein noodle dishes and chopping them are essential for fried rice and great for garnishes.

Large Green Onion (大葱)

What is a large green onion anyway? The first time I saw these in Beijing, I called it a large scallion on steroids but when I asked, people said it was 大葱, dà cōng in Mandarin or “big onion” (that’s the literal translation). Okay…So only big onions and no corresponding baby-onion-like scallions?

An inquiry for “green onions” gets this answer: “Yes, we have green onions.” ::points to honking pile of steroidal “big onions.”

Basically, these seem to be overgrown scallions. It’s certainly tougher than a scallion, by virtue of size alone, but the flavor is virtually the same; and though it looks like a leek, they are most definitely closer to scallions. So, in conclusion, who the heck knows? We consider it to be a local Chinese vegetable, since we’ve only ever encountered these in China. While in Beijing, we used these all the time, often in place of scallions, since they were more readily available.

Onions (洋葱)

Onions or 洋葱 and pronounced in Mandarin as yáng cōng and literally mean western onion. The Chinese character, 洋 or yáng means “foreign” and is used to refer to anything western.

While onions are used in Chinese cooking, especially in western Chinese dishes like shrimp fried rice, most dishes you find in China use other onion/allium varieties found on this page like the big onion or大葱, dà cōng, Chinese chives, or scallions.

Leeks (韭葱)

Leeks, when translated in online dictionaries are 韭葱 or jiǔ cōng but I have not actually heard of this expression until I looked it up. This is one of those vegetables that are not commonly found in China but they resemble some of the vegetables like green garlic greens and the da cong big onions. If the vegetable is not common in China, then names become difficult!

Leeks are quite common in western cooking, and, in the US, only a small portion of the green section is kept as the tops are considered tough and inedible. I think there is a bit of confusion regarding leeks in Chinese cooking and what they are called. Bill’s mom used to call leeks “syun” but that word actually refers to the green of the garlic which s actually garlic greens which is the next entry and picture. In any event, we use leeks a lot in our cooking and sometimes prefer it over onions, a good example is our Pepper Steak with Leeks.

When it comes to Chinese cooking, however, a bit more of the green part is usually used. Leeks are used in the traditional Buddha’s Delight (Lo Han Jai) providing sweetness and flavor to the dish. Leeks are also a key ingredient for Twice Cooked Pork, and the darker green parts are often included in the dish; a hot wok and plenty of stir-frying oil renders the green bits tender and sweet.

Green Garlic (蒜)

Green garlic is generally referred to simply as suàn or 蒜 and in Cantonese pronounced as “syun”. Green garlic is not that common of an ingredient and many times is mistaken for scallions or leeks but like garlic, it is very pungent in flavor. Green garlic is also used many ways in western cooking for their flavor and color in sauces and soups. In China, there are some signature dishes that use garlic greens; one that comes to mind is a Hunan dish cooked with preserved pork belly and garlic greens. This dish can be made with leeks or green garlic.

Garlic Scapes (大蒜花)

Garlic scapes or 大蒜花 dà suàn huā (literal translation is garlic flower) are the flower bud of garlic. Cantonese people call these garlic scape “syun sum” or “garlic hearts”. These buds and stems are removed from the garlic plant in order for the garlic bud to develop an d grow large. Garlic scapes taste just like garlic and are more common in China than in the US, from what we have seen. Most garlic scapes we’ve seen in the US markets are curlier and smaller than the variety found in China, and they are quite a bit more expensive as well. The picture below is from the local market near our apartment in Beijing; you can see how full and tender these garlic scapes are. They are regularly available in large quantities during the summer months and we love to have them stir-fried with some julienned peppers and chunks of pork. Tasty.

Garlic scapes or garlic stems found here in the US (notably more curly and a bit tough looking). For stir fry dishes, these garlic scape usually need to be peeled to remove the tougher outer skin.

Garlic (大蒜)

Garlic is universal in all cultures and in Chinese, 大蒜 is pronounced in Mandarin as dà suàn and in Cantonese as “daai syun” which literally translates to “big garlic”. Growing uop in a Cantonese family, a more common name is simply “syun tao” or “garlic head” which when you think about it,. makes a lot of sense. Even in English we say get me a head of garlic.

or We use garlic so often that we’re not sure what our cooking would be like without it! Thankfully, garlic’s awesomeness is a fact agreed upon by the majority of the world, so being garlic-less is a problem we’ll hopefully never have to contend with. But we felt it deserved a spot in this glossary simply because it’s a foundation for so many of our recipes. Most of our veggies are simply stir-fried with oil, garlic, and salt–perfection.

So yeah. Garlic is verrrrryyyyy important. What would this Forty Garlic Chicken with an Asian Twist be without the garlic? Just some sad chicken…

Ginger or Ginger Root (生姜)

Ginger or 生姜, pronounced shēng jiāng in Mandarin is used extensively in Chinese cooking. Pronounced “geeong” in Cantonese dialect, fresh ginger is used often in steamed fish dishes.

You can find ginger easily in your local grocery store, but it is highly likely that it will be cheaper, fresher, and more abundant at an ethnic grocery store. Chinese or Indian groceries are probably your best bets, as these two cuisines use a lot of it.

Tip: clean (or peel) the ginger and cut into small chunks or slices. Then freeze it, and take it out whenever you need it! We have quite a few dishes that use ginger, many of which involve seafood, since the flavor pairs well with shellfish and fish. The Chinese also believe ginger has medicinal qualities and helps “cleanse” the shellfish. I’m sure you can read more about it on the internet, but we think the simple fact that it tastes good is enough! You’ll find ginger adds great flavor to Ginger Scallion Shrimp, Cantonese Style Ginger Scallion Lobster, and Ginger Scallion Crab, just to name a few.

Shallots (小葱)

Shallots are known as 小葱 xiǎo cōng (small onion) or 青葱 (green onion) qīng cōng in Mandarin and 蔥頭 cung tau in Cantonese dialect.

So here’s one of those eternal culinary question: why use shallots over onions? These days, shallots can be grown quite large and end up having a similar flavor to onions, so what gives? We hate to answer a question with another question but we’ll do it anyway: why use a purple onion over a white or yellow onion then? If you can answer that question, then you probably have the answer to the first question. So the short answer to our question is that shallots are milder in flavor than an onion and are a bit more tender too. Purple onions are most often used in salads rather than the white or yellow variety for their added color and because they are slightly less potent. Shallots are the same way in that they have a milder onion taste, are more delicate, and perhaps sounds bit bit fancier? And yes, fancy is more expensive!

Nevertheless, we use shallots in our kitchen, and, if we don’t have any, then we simply use onions. The opposite is true if our stash of shallots look like they’re taking a turn for the worse–chop them up and throw them in some fried rice! The ultimate take-home message is that, when you cook at home, you’re the boss; so shallots? Onions? We say the difference is usually tiny enough that it probably won’t matter what you use.

And to calm you down from that verging-on-philosophical-discussion of shallots, some nice snaps of these unassuming little onions:

Chinese Chives (韭菜)

Chinese chives or 韭菜, pronounced in Mandarin as jiǔ cài and in Cantonese as “gow choy”, this vegetable is recognized for its strong fragrance and flat leaves. You will know you have Chinese chives around because you will definitely smell them, especially on the car ride home from the Chinese grocery store! Also known as garlic chives in the western hemisphere, these are flatter and wider than regular chives. Regular chives are often eaten raw, sprinkled over the top of something, or added to sauces and dips. Chinese chives, on the other hand, taste a bit more vegetal than herbal, and so, we tend to use them more as a vegetable than an herb–in other words, they are almost always cooked.

If you can get your hands on chive seeds, you’ll have more chives than you’ll know what to do with every summer! Just cut them like you’re trimming grass, and you’ll have more within the week. It’s GREAT. Try to mow down your basil or parsley plants like that–we can tell you that neither will ever recover.

Chinese chives turn up most often in our dumpling fillings (check out our Pork Chive Dumplings (and homemade dumpling wrappers!) or just scrambled with eggs, sesame oil, salt, and white pepper. It may sound weird, but try it. Whenever we’re SCRAMBLING (ha!) for an extra side dish, or need some extra protein, it’s our go-to choice. Our recipe for Chive Frittata is a simple summer favorite of ours when fresh chive and tomatoes are available.

Garlic chive stems are also sold in the market and they are thicker than your normal garlic chives and have tender buds – unopened chive flowers. The stems are thicker but not quite as thick as garlic scapes, yet they are still quite tender.

We use them in the popular Taiwanese Cang Ying Tou or “flies head” stir fry dish. Yes, we know it doesn’t sound appetizing but you’ll feel differently after you have it!

Another best kept secret and good reason for growing Chinese chives in your garden are harvesting the chive flowers! We have only seen these Chinese Chive flowers in China where they are sold in huge volumes at local farmer’s markets. They are very flavorful and will stir your creative juices in the kitchen. Just remember that if you’re harvesting them from your garden that you have a very small window to pick them and they must pick picked just when they open before the seeds start forming because then they get tough and practically inedible.

Check out our recipes for Chinese Chive flatbread and Chinese Chive Flower tempura – they will knock your socks off if you can find any volume of chive flowers!

Yellow Chinese Chives (韭黄)

Yellow Chinese Chives, 韭黄 or “jiǔ huáng” in Mandarin (sometimes called 韭菜黄, jiǔ cài huáng) are basically the same green Chinese chives except that they have been grown with without sunlight which causes the lack of green pigment (chlorophyll). Cantonese call it “gow wang” and it is often used in Cantonese noodle and seafood dishes. Yellow chives have the same basic flavor the green chive green in full sun but have a more mild or delicate flavor which is characteristic of Cantonese cooking.

Pictured below are beautiful fresh yellow chives from a farmer’s market in Beijing China.

Yellow chives can be found also neatly packaged at Asian and Chinese grocery stores in the US and other western countries.

Cilantro or Coriander (香菜)

Cilantro, also called coriander, 香菜 or xiāng cài in Mandarin and pronounced “heung choy” in Cantonese is an essential ingredient in Chinese cooking. Often used for garnish and in whole steamed fish dishes and soups, you definitely want to have this herb in your pantry.

When it comes to cilantro, you either love it or you hate it; whatever your stance, we had to include it in this list.

Cilantro consists of the leaves of the coriander plant and is most known as a key ingredient for Mexican dishes. It’s also used just as often in Southeast Asian dishes. As for Chinese dishes, we like it as a garnish for noodle soups and for dishes like Whole Steamed fish.

Bottom line is, you all know what cilantro is.

Chinese Toon (香椿)

Chinese toon or xiāng chūn (香椿) in Chinese, are a kind of aromatic that is readily available in China during the springtime. Edible Chinese toon, also known as the Chinese Mohagany, are harvested from the young leaves of the Chinese Mohagany tree in the spring when the trees are sprouting and is available for only a few weeks of the growing season. Toon leaves have a purple tint with a floral flavor that has an onion-like flavor and is frequently used in cold dishes.

Toon sprouts (pictured below) are also available and have the same taste as the toon leaves but are much more tender and is sometimes used as a garnish in salads and other cold dishes. We had never eaten toon leaves or sprouts prior to our move to Beijing, but they really enhance the flavor of the dish. It has an unusual peppery, oniony aromatic flavor that’s very unusual and hard to describe but is great when added to salads and also cold tofu appetizers. Both of these varieties are generally used in egg dishes similar to our Shrimp and Stir-fried eggs dish.

Thai Basil

This tasty addition to–duh–Thai dishes is easily found in most Asian grocery stores, but we’ve never really seen it in a run-of-the-mill supermarket. (It can be such a pain to find on a regular basis that we’ve taken to growing it in our garden–yep, those beauties in the picture are 100% homegrown! A few years ago, though, it was difficult to even track down the seeds!)

There are many varieties of basil that are similar to Thai basil, but the kind we use most often is the variety that has the purple stems and flowers. Some examples of dishes that use this fragrant herb is Thai Basil Shrimp Fried Rice, Thai Basil Beef, and the creative and seriously delicious Thai Basil Pesto Pasta.

Thai basil is used in Japanese Eggplant with Chicken & Thai Basil. Thai basil really puts this eggplant dish over the top!

Holy Basil

Holy basil is much harder to find, even in local Asian grocery stores and is quite different in flavor from the more common Thai basil. The leaves of the holy basil are broader than the Thai basil and have jagged edges. The stems are green rather than purple and the flower buds are also more green than purple. Other types of basil that look similar and can confuse you are cinnamon basil and lemon basil. Looks aside, the flavor of holy basil is very different from any of these other basil varieties having a strong similarity in taste to anise and fennel.

We have published a few recipes including Thai Basil Beef (Pad Gra Prow) which many people commented about since we actually used Thai Basil instead of holy basil (literal translation of ka phrao in Thai). We even suggested that if you could not find holy basil to use Thai basil or even Italian basil! We understand why people objected to us calling any dish “gra prow” which translates to holy basil in Thai but if you have a chance to try it, you will understand that the flavor is very different also!

Sorry it took us so long to update this page but we could never find holy basil at markets near us so we had to order seeds and it took us a season to get the plants mature enough to try ourselves and bring you a new dish. Pork & Holy Basil Stir-fry (Pad Kra Pao) uses the real holy basil and boy were we pleasantly surprised with its unique taste. Our holy basil plants sprouted and grew to what you see below after three to four weeks.

If you have a garden, check out the link below, order some holy basil seeds from Amazon, and enjoy it next summer! We planted these organic heirloom seeds in loose, fertile soil where they could get plenty of sun and they grew nicely, yielding large, fragrant plants.

Organic Tulsi Holy Basil Seeds – 300 mg – Heirloom

Curry Leaf

Curry leaves are an awesome herb that we love in Indian dishes. We know it’s also used in some Southeast Asian dishes, since there is quite a bit of Indian influence in the region, but we haven’t quite figured out how to use it beyond a homemade curry. So stay tuned!

Ajika Fresh Curry Leaves – South Indian, Thai, Sri Lankan Herb, Citrus Flavor

Makrut Lime Leaf (Kaffir Lime Leaf)

Makrut Limes are bumpy-skinned limes that are coveted for their fragrant leaves. Makrut lime leaves have a distinct aroma that enhance Southeast Asian soups and curry stews. Makrut is a Thai word that is used in favor of Kaffir, which, it has come to our attention, is an old racial slur and to many people, is simply offensive. From our research, “Kaffir” comes from the Arabic word kafir, and means non-believer or infidel (non-muslims) and also evolved to refer to black Africans. So you can see why we needed to change the name “Kaffir” to “Makrut” on this ingredients page.

We hope that the name “Makrut lime” will be used in the future over the more common “Kaffir lime” name but in the United States and many other parts of the world, people still use “Kaffir lime”, mostly due to ignorance and because most people recognize the name “Kaffir Lime” rather than “Makrut lime”. Hopefully our change on this page will help educate people and the trend will be to use “Makrut lime” to describe this this bumpy skinned lime with beautifully fragrant leaves used for cooking.

Our experience with using the Makrut lime leaf is in our recipe for Beef Rendang. Hopefully we can figure out some additional ways to use this fragrant little leaf.

Fresh Kaffir Lime Leaves ( Thai Lime Leaves) 2 Oz.

Fresh Turmeric or Yellow Ginger (姜黄)

Okay, looks a little bit like bugs at first glance, but don’t panic and X out of this window just yet, because this picture of the fresh turmeric is indeed a root! Although turmeric or Jiāng huáng(姜黄) in Chinese, is used extensively in Southeast Asian cooking, its origin are from India, where it lends a rich flavor and golden color to many dishes. A bonus of turmeric is that it’s loaded with antioxidants and actually has some antiseptic properties. Although we haven’t published any recipes using turmeric in its fresh form, we do use turmeric powder in our Beef Rendang. It’s definitely time to expand our horizons and get some fresh turmeric into our kitchen!

Lemongrass

Lemongrass is a commonly used herb in Southeast Asia, but it has spread throughout the world due to its fragrant and fresh flavor. What we didn’t know about lemongrass is that certain varieties are used to make citronella for mosquito repellents. Making a mental note to start growing this on the deck AND to start incorporating it into more recipes!

Galangal (高良姜)

Galangal, 高良姜 pronounced in Mandarin as gāo liáng jiāng, is also known as Thai ginger and it resembles other Asian rhizomes like ginger and turmeric. Galangal is often used in Thai, Indonesian, and Malaysian cooking and the flavor is strong and even a bit citrus-like. Fresh galangal is hard to come by in the US, even in Chinese and Asian markets so if you see them, grab a packet (they are relatively inexpensive) and freeze them!

Galangal is definitely a cousin of the ginger root used in Southeast Asian cooking. It’s quite aromatic, and, while we don’t use the fresh galangal root often, we do have galangal powder in our pantry. It rounds out the flavor explosion in our Beef Rendang!

We can get fresh galangal root in some selected local stores, but you can also order it fresh from Amazon! They really do sell everything…

Thai Fresh galangal – 14 oz

Long Green Hot Peppers

Long hot green peppers is definitely one of our favorite peppers. It’s readily available and relatively inexpensive, and they are TASTY. The only downside is that the heat index of these peppers varies greatly–sometimes they’re perfectly delicious and mild, and sometimes they can unleash an unsuspected sweat storm during meals. We realize that’s not the greatest ringing endorsement for these peppers, but check out Tiger Skin Peppers, Beef and Pepper Stir-fry, and Sichuan Three Pepper chicken, and we think you won’t be able to stay away.

Red Thai Chili Peppers

Red Thai chili pepper, also called Bird’s Eye or Bird pepper used in many dishes to add some heat like Shrimp Pad Thai or Pho Noodle Soup and they do pack a real spicy punch. We usually de-seed them to reduce some of the heat before using them in stir-fry and noodles dishes or keep them whole as a garnish. If we can’t find these peppers or want a little less heat, we will often use the larger red holland peppers.

Holland Red Chili Peppers

We stumbled upon Holland red chili peppers while shopping at our local Asian store and have been using them as our go-to fresh red chili pepper. They are relatively cheap and have a good level of heat–spicy enough to kick you in the pants a little but not so spicy that you feel a need to chug a gallon of milk.

That being said though, the world of chili peppers is vast, and we’re always looking for new ways to add a bit of spice to our dishes. We’d love to hear about your personal chili preferences and experiences! Leave a comment below!

Shishito Peppers

Shishito peppers are small slender peppers that are very common in Japanese and Korean cooking. These thin walled peppers have lots of seeds and are generally sweet but every 1 or 2 out of 10 peppers can be wildy spicy so look out when you eat these! Growing in popularity, Shishito peppers are becoming more widely available at your local supermarkets. Like Spanish Padron peppers, blistered or seared Shishito peppers are quite the popular dish but they have always been used in popular dishes like Korean Beef Bulgogi.

Stalking The Wild Onion

Wild garlic (Allium vineale)

Known as winter perennials, wild onion and wild garlic grow vigorously during the cool months and will often die back during the warmer months. Once you start mowing your lawn regularly, they are camouflaged by the other turf; they will reemerge, though, once the summer heat is over, nights are cool, and you have stopped mowing on a regular basis.

If you want to remove these plants from your garden beds or lawn, it will take strong will and determination. You can use a weed popper to pull them out by hand, but if you leave behind any part of the roots, the plant will probably come back. Pulling is best done when the soil is moist; the plants slide out easily. In garden beds, glyphosate will control both wild garlic and wild onion, if the bulbs are not dormant, but you must be careful not to spray the weed killer on other plants. For lawns, the selective weed killers that contain 2, 4-D, dicamba, and MCCP work reasonably well against wild garlic (treat in fall) and wild onion (treat in spring). But it is likely you will need multiple treatments. You might just decide to have a policy of peaceful coexistence with these weeds.

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