Hardneck Garlic vs. Softneck Garlic

So many people ask the question, what is the difference between softneck garlic and hardneck garlic?  I am going to give you my best shot at explaining what the differences are.  Hopefully this will help you choose the best type of garlic to grow, learn about the different types of garlic, find out which type can be braided, which gives the largest cloves, and lots more.

HARDNECK GARLIC

  • Hardneck garlic develops a long flowering stem, called a scape, which eventually develops bulbils at its top end. Under ground, around this central flowering stem, is a single row of cloves wrapped together in a papery coating to form the bulb of garlic. Scapes should be cut from hardneck garlic plants in the early summer, as the bulbils can rob energy from the plant and result in smaller garlic bulbs at the end of the growing season.  The scapes can be used for cooking and will I blog about the uses of scapes when summer rolls around.
  • Hardneck garlic varieties tend to do best in colder climates as they are winter hardy.
  • Hardneck garlic peels easier.
  • Hardneck garlic is  more flavorful than softneck garlic.
  • Though they have fewer cloves per head than softneck varieties, the cloves themselves are larger on hardneck garlic varieties. Each hardneck garlic bulb has a single row of large cloves.
  •  Hardneck varieties do not store as well as softneck varieties. They begin to deteriorate within four to six months of harvest.
  • There are hundreds of hardneck garlic varieties maybe even thousands.   Here are a few that we are growing on the farm:  Music, German White, German Extra Hardy, Chesnok Red, Spanish Roja, Georgian Fire and Brown Rose.

SOFTNECK GARLIC

  • Softneck garlic is best for warmer climates as it is not as hardy.
  • Softneck garlic varieties store very well.  Because of its ability to store well, this is the garlic that you usually find in the grocery stores.  The bulbs will last for nine to twelve months under ideal storage conditions.
  • Softneck garlic has many cloves in each bulb, not just a single row like hardneck garlic does.
  • Softneck garlic does not develop a flowering stalk (scape), so their stems stay soft and flexible, making them excellent for creating braids of garlic.
  • There are only two or three dozen named softneck garlic varieties.

Homegrown garlic is much like a homegrown tomato in that there’s no comparison to store-bought. Enjoy the spicy, pungent flavor of your own hearty garlic harvest by experimenting with different varieties.