ASIATIC: there is wide variation between Asiatic strains. Asia is a large continent with radically diverse climates, peoples, as well as garlics. Generally, these are garlics that migrated east from Central Asia, through China and out to the Pacific coast. Some of these varieties will shoot up and mature early, while others are among the last to emerge and mature mid season. They have divergent leaf shapes and growth habits as well as bulb shapes and clove configurations. One thing they share in common is a distinctive umbel capsule which can become quite elongated, sometimes containing very large dark purple bulbils. At Garlicana most Asiatic strains will produce bulbils low or midway up the stem. While it is unnecessary to remove the scape to achieve a sizable head, it doesn’t hurt either. These are listed roughly in order of maturity. Clove count per pound is highly variable between strains. Asiatics are $10 per ¼ lb; $16 per ½ lb; $26 per lb.
Singing Falls (W6 35698) A neighbor found a clump of this unusual garlic growing in her yard. It had been grown by a previous owner who died in the 70s and it was growing feral until 2003. Given its morphology, it fits in with other garlics of east Asian origin and it’s also possible that it came with Chinese immigrants who began settling in SW Oregon in the mid 19th century. Singing Falls is named for a waterfall, close to where the garlic was growing where indigenous women had their birthing ceremonies. The plants have extremely vertical leaf architecture and the spathes are often translucent revealing multiple sets of scapes within. It matures very early and has small to medium bulbs, white with purple blushing and 8-14 mahogany colored cloves. It’s skins are thick and easy to peel. The flavor is rich, complex and best appreciated raw when the garlic is still fresh and juicy. 1/4 lb. limit
Sakura (W6 35658) aka Japanese, from an elderly Japanese gardener in WA state. It has broad closely spaced leaves, with bulbils that form mid stem and matures early. It produces large white bulbs with 5-7 plump cloves. Sakura bulbs can quickly overmature, opening up during curing so special attention is beneficial near harvest time. Sakura has the sweetest flavor of all garlics trialed here; quite pleasant eaten raw.
Takayama: from a market in the highland city of Takayama, central Japan. The plants emerge early and have rigid vertical leaves, towering over other Asiatic strains. It matures after the early Asiatics but ahead of the others. It has rich, complex flavor with a slow build to a piquant finish. It has adapted very well here producing medium-large very tight bulbs with purple blushing and 5-6 dark colored cloves. Takayama will produce abundant bulbils which can be propagated for garlic greens and usually bulb up in one season.
Later maturing Asiatics (generally 7-10 after the early ones listed above)
Matakana: This is a variety that was sent to me by someone asking me to identify it, saying only that it was from New Zealand. I’ve been growing it out for several years and mulled on whether or not to offer it. Matakana is a tourist town on the North Island surrounded by vineyards featuring a farmers’ market where it is likely this variety was procured. I wrote to the market inquiring about garlic farmers in hopes of finding out where this variety originated but alas. It is certainly an Asiatic type and an attractive one too. The medium sized bulbs feature dark purple coloration and, unlike most other Asiatics, generally have nice symmetry. Cloves are tight and it stores quite well too. While it is not as hot as varieties like Pyongyang, it still has that bright flavor profile. Now if i could just get some origin data on it as it is more likely that it made its way to NZ via northeastern Asia.
Pyongyang: from the countryside surrounding the North Korean capital. While late to emerge, it matures mid season. It has wide, pale leaves and sprawling growth habit. Purple streaked white bulbs with 6-8 crimson-purple, tear drop shaped cloves on medium sized bulbs. It has a bright, spicy flavor, astounding volatility and a lengthy shelf life.
Korean Red: This is a robust replacement for Asian Tempest, the yields of which had declined in recent years. Korean Red features more sizable bulbs with greater uniformity and similar bright hot flavor. It’s impressively large plants, like others of its type, are late to emerge. On the larger heads it has a habit of producing cloves that have another thin clove embedded in the scales. It also seems to have a higher dry matter content than the other Asiatic accession. Origin data is scarce to non-existent. Absurdly, one geographically challenged source claims it’s from the Republic of Georgia. Stalin did deport ethnic Koreans living in Russia’s Far East into the interior of Central Asia in the 1940s. Though there is reportedly some Korean influence on Central Asian cuisine, none of the seed collection missions we are aware of procured accessions with Asiatic traits and Koreans were not deported to the Caucasus region. We suspect, given this accession’s vigor, that it is a commercial cultivar widely distributed on the Korean Peninsula. No matter its origin, it well worth growing.
Wonha: 20 miles north of Pyongyang lies the village of Wonha where this garlic is from. It has 4-7 plump purple cloves and a flavor that builds to a bright heat which quickly fades. 1 lb. limit