Garlic lovers who’ve spent a few months without fresh garlic cloves are prime candidates for growing Early Red Italian, which is ready for harvest before many other types. What is Early Red Italian garlic, you may ask? It is a mild, artichoke garlic with a minor bite. Early Red Italian garlic info calls it “an excellent garlic ready for harvest weeks before some other varieties” and says “it is a prolific grower” with large, colorful bulbs.
Growing Early Red Italian Garlic
Native to southern Italy, heads are large and, as mentioned, the Early Red Italian garlic plant is one of the earliest types ready for a late spring harvest. While this garlic variety will grow in less than ideal conditions, bulbs and taste are improved by growing in a sunny spot in loose, composted soil.
Plant garlic cloves with the roots downward and cover with a couple inches (5 cm.) of rich topsoil. Space the cloves approximately 18 inches (46 cm.) apart. Plant into soil that is loose and well draining so the roots of Early Red Italian have plenty of room to develop and grow the large bulbs. Info says one pound of this garlic typically has 50 to 90 bulbs.
Water regularly when there is no natural moisture. Keep the weeds cleared from the garlic patch, as garlic does not like competition for nutrients. A layer of organic mulch assists with both holding moisture and keeping weeds down. Clip off any blooms that appear.
Planting times for garlic vary somewhat by location. Most plant in mid-autumn if there will be a winter freeze. More northern areas may wait to plant in early spring. Those without freezing winters often plant in winter and harvest in fall.
Purchase seed garlic from a reputable source, locally or online. Keep in mind, when you’re buying your first seed garlic that it will produce bulbs for eating and reseeding for years to come, so don’t be intimidated by the price. You haven’t truly tasted garlic until you eat that which you’ve grown.
Early Red Italian garlic stores well and lasts several months if properly stored. Use this garlic in sauces and pesto or for raw eating. You can store the entire plant or store bulbs in a dark, dry place where air circulates, in a mesh or paper bag.