Growing Garlic

Garlic bulbs imported by Seeds from Italy.

Back in September, I opened the Seeds from Italy promotional email in my Inbox. The company is the exclusive U.S. distributor for Franchi Seeds.

“Four garlic varieties have just arrived from Italy. Ready to plant now,” the copy proclaimed.

Since I had been savoring fresh garlic from the Farmers’ Market for weeks, I was intrigued with the concept that I could grow my own. Like daffodil bulbs tucked below ground in autumn to bloom seemingly like magic in spring, I could sow garlic cloves in September for a (practically) effortless flavor bonanza next spring and summer. My kind of gardening.

I knew right away that I wanted the Rossa di Sulmona with its plump bulbs wrapped in mauve tinged skin. I guessed that maybe this variety had been cultivated in Sulmona, a charming town in Abruzzo, which rendered it even more appealing. I made a mental note to order some.

Well, these days, my mental notes are only as good as the paper they’re not written on. In early October, I woke up and realized I was no closer to garlic gratification than I had been a month earlier.

Two cloves of garlic yield dozens of future garlic plants.

I logged into the site and pulled up the garlic order screen to see my hopes dashed. “Rossa di Sulmona is Sold Out!” Somewhat disgruntled, I ordered the Garlic Viola Francese and couldn’t resist entering these words in the Comments field: “I can’t belive I missed the Rossa di Sulmona. I learned a lesson here!”

When my order arrived a few days later, I was touched to see a note on the invoice written by Seeds from Italy owner Dan Nagengast.

“Too bad about the Rossa. We brought in a lot more this year, too.”

Dan, please put me at the top of the order list for 2013.


  1. says

    My 3rd crop of 80 Rossa di Sulmona (mostly) cloves went into the group Nov. 3, a good day to plant below ground crops by the Moon. Earlier in the fall I worked in chicken manure and peat moss to the patch and after planting, covered with many inches of hay. This giving season, a select few friends will receive garlic from Italy (via Bristol, RI) from a bumper crop last July.

  2. says

    I have so many relatives that grow basil and tomatoes, but none that I can recall that have tried garlic. I’ll have to give it a try, as that really can spice up an Italian meal. I wonder if it is difficult to do. Living here in Florida, I bet I can pull it off. Good pics. Now I want to make some pasta with aglio e oglio.

    • Sharon says

      We’ve had a spate of temperatures in the ’60s here in southeastern PA and some of my garlic has sprouted.I hope it doesn’t wreck it for next spring’s growing season.
      You might check with your agricultural extension office to see what time of year would be best to grow garlic in your climate.

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