The shelf-life of garlic: choose cultivars to last year round

Feb 28, 2023 | Garlic

Garlic isn’t just garlic! Garlic encompasses a wide range of flavours from spicy to buttery, nutty to sweet, mild to hot and more. There are 11 groups, several of which are not grown in Australia, and each has its own distinct growing and harvest season, soil and climatic requirements. Each group has a different shelf-life so it’s handy to know this to ensure a 12 month supply of stored heads, when choosing garlic cultivars for planting. Here are 9 groups and some of the most popular cultivars.

3-5 months shelf-life:
Turban cultivars include Italian Purple, Monaro Purple, Rose du Var, Tasmanian Purple, Wilde Pearl, Wilde Ruby and Australian Red
Plant March-April and harvest October-November

4-5 months shelf-life:
Rocambole cultivars include Deerfield Purple
Plant April-May and harvest in December

5-7 months shelf-life:
Porcelain cultivars include Leningrad and Music
Plant late April-June and harvest in December

6-7 months shelf-life:
Glazed Purple Stripe cultivars include Vekan
Plant April-May and harvest in December-January

6-9 months shelf-life:
Artichoke cultivars include Ajo de Cambio, Cream, Italian Red, Italian White, Australian White
Plant April-May and harvest November-December

8-10 months shelf-life:
Standard Purple Stripe cultivars include Shvelisi
Plant May-June and harvest in December

10 month shelf-life:
Standard Purple Stripe cultivars include Dunganski
Plant May-June and harvest in December

8-12 months shelf-life
Creole cultivars include Dynamite Purple, Rojo de Castro and Spanish Rojo

12 months shelf-life:
Silverskin cultivars include Lokalen, Wilde Silver, Rose du Var Softneck and Silverskin
Plant May-June harvest December-January

You will generally need to order online as plant nurseries generally start selling garlic heads late autumn. If, like me, you want to vernalise your garlic in the fridge (not freezer) – that is, give it a false winter, as you would other bulbs, then the sooner you order the better. I vernalise my garlic bulbs for 40 days, only dividing the heads into separate cloves at planting time. My experiments in the past have resulted in much bigger heads when I vernalise compared to my non-vernalised control group.

Here’s a list of suppliers:

Australian Garlic Industry Association has an extensive list of garlic sellers.
Wildes Lane at Moyston near the Grampians has a very full range of garlic.  
Bulleen Art and Garden sells garlic heads late autumn. 

Woodward, Penny, Garlic, Hyland House Publishing Pty Ltd, Melbourne, Reprint 2015

Written by Robin Gale-Baker