Saturday, October 10, 2009

Ajo Rojo Creole Garlic

Garlic is one of those basics that you always need in the kitchen.  The great thing about growing your own garlic is that it stores so well that a single harvest can produce enough to use throughout the year.  Since you're actually eating the bulb, organically grown garlic from your own garden is also much healthier than store-bought garlic.  And while all the garlic at the market is the same, there is amazing variety available if you choose to grow your own garlic.   This year, I selected Ajo Rojo, a creole garlic.

Most garlics are either hardnecks or softnecks.  Hardnecks are known for producing large cloves which are easy to peel and have excellent flavor.  They do best in cooler climates.  Softnecks are recommended for southern growers.  This is the garlic offered by retailers because they are more productive than hardnecks, and they store better than longnecks.  Ajo Rojo is a creole garlic, a unique group of garlics that originated in Spain and is genetically distinct from both the hardnecks and softnecks.  Creole garlics do well in hot climates, have a pleasant warm flavor that is retained when cooked, and store for around 9 months.  In other words, an ideal garlic to grow in Houston.  Since I'm a sucker for beautiful vegetables, it's an added benefit that Ajo Rojo cloves look amazing with streaks of red, pink and burgundy.

Garlic is slow to mature, and requires cold weather to develop and enhance flavor.  It must be planted in fall for a spring harvest.  I have read that due to our mild climate, garlic can be started in Houston as late as December and still achieve excellent results.  I started most of the ajo rojo this week, setting aside one bulb of about 15 cloves to start in November. With Ajo Rojo's long shelf life, this succession planting should produce enough garlic for us to use all of next year.

Garlic is in the allium family which includes onions and leeks.  It is ideal to plant garlic somewhere that has not recently grown alliums to avoid any diseases that affect the onion family.  Garlic also needs loose, fertile soil, with good drainage to avoid drowning during one of our heavy rains.  A raised bed is therefore ideal.  I chose to devote an entire bed to garlic.  In a garden where square footage is in limited supply, this is a big sacrifice for me.  But, that one bed will produce a year's supply of garlic, which is a excellent ROI.   With the garlic in the ground, there's nothing to do now but wait for a spring harvest.

Ajo rojo creole garlic made the Foodbuzz Top 9 today! The Foodbuzz Top 9 is a photo-driven collection of top-buzzed posts within the Foodbuzz community.  Congratulations again, and thanks for being a part of Foodbuzz!
Cheers, The Foodbuzz Editorial Team


  1. Thanks for this post! Garlic is a favorite item in my kitchen, and because we're in VA, I'm off to see what I can find of the Ajo Rojo Creole.

  2. Great post! I've been wanting to start garlic, and still havn't gotten around to it! I better get on this quick!!

  3. Thanks for sharing... Lovely photos indeed. Kakdah is using garlic for her dish almost everyday! ~bangchik

  4. soo jealous of your amazing growing season and beautiful garlic! here in Washington I'm stuck with 4 gallons of unripe tomatoes and fava beans as my winter crop.


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