ROCAMBOLE garlics are stocky plants with broad closely spaced leaves and scapes that form tight coils. They have rich, well rounded, outstanding flavor which is brought out by cold winter temperatures. Most Rocambole strains have a tendency to produce “doubles.” This is when there are two or more cloves, often enjoined in flesh, in a single clove wrapper. While this is a boon in the kitchen, planting double cloves will result in two (or more) plants that become smaller bulbs. Rocamboles are easy to peel due to loose clove skins and, consequently, they are susceptible to desiccation, thus store poorly; however, they are tolerant to higher humidity in storage than those from most other horticultural groups. Rocamboles will produce approximately 50-60 cloves per pound. Rocamboles are $8 per ¼ lb; $14 per ½ lb; $20 per lb.
Spanish Roja: brought to the Portland, OR area over a century ago. If there is one variety that sparked a renaissance of garlic growing amongst small farmers, this would be it. The bulbs are blotched with purple containing 7-12 cloves that are frequently doubled or tripled. Easy to peel but consequently poor in storage, its rich, complex flavor more than makes up for its drawbacks.
Carpathian (W6 35656) Fabulously flavored garlic from Poland in the western Carpathian Mountains which stretch nearly a thousand miles through Central and Eastern Europe. This cultivar produces fewer double cloves than most Rocambole types.
Russian Red: medium bulbs with 6-8 brown cloves with a bit of darker purple-red blush, it has a full rounded flavor. Brought to Canada in the 19th century by Doukhobor refugees, who fled religious persecution in the Russian Empire. The Doukhobors are a devout sect of Anabaptist Christians that were obstinately anti-government and pacifist, refusing pledge allegiance to the Tsar, much less serve in his military. They resided in southern Georgia before migrating to Saskatchewan with the aid of such seminal figures as Leo Tolstoy and the anarchist, Pytor Kropotkin. It seems likely that they picked up the garlic from Georgia, carrying it with them to where most eventually settled in British Columbia.
Osage: small to medium bulbs with 5-7 reddish brown cloves. Said to be cultivated by the Osage Indians as far back as the early 18th century. The Osage had good trade relations with the French who likely introduced this Rocambole to the tribe who resided in what is now Western Missouri. They were, like most Native Americans, displaced from their traditional lands by the U.S. Government in what in modern terms would be called “ethnic cleansing”. Eventually corralled onto a barren reservation in Oklahoma, they had the mixed fortune to settle atop significant oil deposits, leading to both unexpected prosperity and protracted terrifying violence in the early 20th century known as the Osage Murders.