I haven't decided yet, but I am trying to determine whether I should sell most of my garlic this year. Here is the deal - the garlic growing project- now over two years old - is going very, very well. We have determined that growing garlic is going to be a good and profitable venture for us. We need more beds and more capacity, but we have determined that garlic is going to be a winner. I like the fact that it is basically a winter crop. You plant it in the fall after your regular garden is done, and it grows all by itself all winter, and then you harvest it in June - which still leaves you plenty of time for a good summer crop. I really like that idea. I also like that our weather/temperatures in spring/summer are almost perfect for drying and curing the garlic we grow. We really don't need any special facilities or storage expenses. We don't need air conditioning, and the garlic doesn't take up room in the root cellar. Eventually I will build (Lord willing) a drying/curing barn, but for now we can use the structures we have. I really like that the economics of gourmet garlic (as opposed to regular, store-bought, generic/weak garlic) seem to be a slam-dunk. Gourmet garlic sells for $16-$20 a pound compared to $3 - $5 a lb. for generic garlic in the store. And gourmet garlics sell out everywhere. I don't know anyone who grows gourmet garlic who is getting stuck with inventory. So there is a market for it. So here is my problem... the garlic I grow is PUNGENT, delicious, good-sized, fragrant, and did I say PUNGENT? The problem is that when I bought my seed garlic, I didn't really write down what kind of garlic it is. I'm pretty sure it is a softneck variety, since hardnecks don't grow well here in the South, and these are thriving. I'm pretty sure it is one of the strongest, hottest, and most pungent garlics, because I have eaten it raw and it is STRONG. But I cannot remember, for the life of me, what variety it is. If you would have asked me last fall what variety it is, I would have sworn it was Spanish Roja. I thought for sure that was what it had to be. But then I studied more about Spanish Roja and apparently it is a hardneck variety and I am almost certain that ours is not a hardneck. The experts also say that Spanish Roja just will not do well in the South. I don't know why I was soooo certain that my garlic was Spanish Roja, but that is what I remember, and now I am not sure. So there are a few things I can do... I can take some samples over to Bangs to the guy who is the garlic expert, from whom I bought my original "seed" and see what he says; or I can sell all of this delicious and PUNGENT garlic and start over with absolutely identifiable varieties - and do this right from the beginning. I am torn. In all likelihood, the garlic guy may not be able to identify the garlic because I am several years into basically creating my own variety because location and conditions actually change the characteristics of the garlic. He may not even know what it is. I hate to not grow this great garlic, because it is so very good and so unique. I'd hate it if I started growing a lesser garlic, just because I can identify it.
The qualities of the garlic: My garlic (We'll call it Bunker's Texas Pungencia) is about a 6 or 7 out of 10 when it comes to garlickiness, and a 8 or 9 when it comes to heat/pungency. This heat is very pronounced when you eat it raw, however, when it is cooked, most of the heat isn't there, but the garlickiness is amplified - so, for example, it takes about 1 clove to equal 4-5 cloves of store-bought garlic. If you use it in your spaghetti sauce, it isn't going to be too spicy for the wimps in your house. This garlic is to store-bought garlic what the sun is to a candle... there is no comparison. As far as medicine goes (and garlic IS medicine) this is the strongest garlic I have ever eaten. It stores very well. Last years crop, harvested in the first week of June, stored well into this year (8-9 months) which is remarkable for good garlic.
The biggest problem: As I said, gourmet garlic (and this means gourmet garlic for planting as well) goes for about $16-$20 a lb., which means to replace my seed garlic with a known variety I will have to buy my seed garlic at those prices. This is amplified by the fact that I have multiplied my own seed garlic by many times over what I originally bought. I intend to plant more than 11 full beds (several thousand plants) this fall, so it will cost me a pretty penny to buy more seed garlic.
I think the solution will be to keep a portion of my crop for re-planting. If I do this, I will just call this variety Bunker Texas Pungencia because I do not know what it actually is. In this scenario I will sell the largest portion of my crop and use that money to buy some known and identifiable varieties that grow well here in Central Texas. How does that sound? I won't have much to sell, but maybe this is the best solution. What do you all think? Any ideas?
Oh, and I'm also taking suggestions on a better name. Not for me. Mine is fine. For the garlic.