Larger than regular garlic and has a milder taste. The tall, solid, flowering stalks and broad, flat leaves of the elephant garlic resemble its cousin, the leek, but unlike leeks, elephant garlic forms a bulb typically made up of four to six very large cloves. The plant is quite large, but otherwise resembles the ordinary garlic.
It flowers rapidly, forming a round composite flower head at the top of a long 30-40cm stalks called a scape. This scape is solid and becomes rather woody very quickly. The leaves are flat and thin.
As the plant matures, it also produces edible flowers. If you nip the flower buds out it encourages larger bulbs. If you let them flower the flower buds are very tasty pickled like capers.
Elephant garlic has a long shelf life, and because of its large size, is easy to chop and can be peeled with little effort. Like smaller varieties, elephant garlic is full of vitamins and minerals.
Select plump, firm bulbs that are free of sprouts or stains and have intact skin. For easy peeling, crush garlic lightly with the flat side of a knife, the skin will come off almost by itself. Because of its large size, elephant garlic is an excellent choice for roasting in the oven.
The best time to plant garlic is June — traditionally the shortest day of the year (21 June) and harvest on the longest day of the year (21 December). In cooler districts garlic can be planted in May right through to August.
It is possible that garlic purchased from the supermarket has been treated with a retardant to stop the bulbs from sprouting. This will explain the stunted growth and distortion. GardenPost garlic bulbs have not been treated – they can be planted or eaten fresh.
Plant into a well-drained soil in a sunny position. Dig in generous quantities of compost, and an application of general garden fertiliser and lime before planting. Break the bulb into individual cloves taking the largest cloves from around the outside of the bulb — discard the smaller ones or use in cooking. Break the bulb up just before planting. Keep the area weed free and if conditions are dry, keep well-watered.
Plant cloves with the narrow end up, so they are just covered — approximately 2-5 cm deep. This will depend upon the size of the clove. Reduce watering one month before harvest to improve the keeping quality. If flower stalks appear, remove them as this will reduce the size of the garlic bulbs when harvested.
Plant whole shallot bulb in autumn (May onwards) in well-drained rich soil, but not where you have grown onions, garlic or leeks before (otherwise your shallots will get nasty diseases). Do not plant them too deeply. Once established keep them well-fed with nitrogenous fertilizers and well-watered if the soil gets dry. Closer to harvest time lay off the nitrogen.