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Nootka Rose garlic is a gourmet silverskin softneck variety known for its excellent flavor. Heralding from the picturesque San Juan Islands of Washington State, this cultivar is distinguished by its silky white bulbs tinged with a delicate, rosy blush. It offers a rich and warm flavor without overpowering heat, as well as a prolonged storage capacity and beautiful aesthetics.
Introduction to Nootka Rose garlic
Originating from the San Juan Islands off the Washington State coast, the Nootka Rose garlic stands out as a testament to nature’s brilliance. Its elegant bulbs, adorned with silky-smooth white skins, often bear a rosy blush, making them a visual treat. These outer aesthetics match the garlic’s equally refined flavor – a flavor described as rich and warm, without being overpoweringly hot.
This Silverskin variety of softneck garlic is renowned not just for its taste but also for its impressive shelf life. Nootka Rose easily keeps fresh until the next spring or even summer, making it one of the longest-storing garlics. This longevity, coupled with the garlic’s inherent beauty, makes it perfect for braiding, allowing for a decorative yet functional kitchen staple that can be hung and used over many months.
Beyond its aesthetics and storage benefits, Nootka Rose garlic is known to be a robust grower. It flourishes well both in the northern and southern states, showcasing its adaptability to varied climates. Furthermore, its late-season maturity means it’s a treat that’s worth the wait, and when it’s ready to be harvested, it signals gardeners by gracefully falling over. Each bulb is generously packed, averaging around 15 to 18 cloves, and even the smallest of these cloves can yield sizeable bulbs when planted.
Culinary enthusiasts, particularly from the Pacific Northwest, hold the Nootka Rose garlic in high regard. Its strong, spicy flavor, aromatic presence, and the heat it brings to dishes make it a preferred choice for a range of recipes, from roasting to blending into rich sauces. Brought to the wider world by Steve Bensel of Nootka Rose Farm, this garlic variety has not only carved a niche for itself in garlic connoisseur circles but has also rooted itself deep into the culinary traditions of many households. Whether you’re looking for a garlic variety to braid and hang in your kitchen or seeking that authentic, strong flavor for your meals, Nootka Rose promises to deliver on both fronts.
Nootka Rose garlic flavor profile
Nootka Rose garlic presents a harmonious blend of rich warmth and robust pungency, offering a taste that is distinctly bold but not overwhelmingly hot. As a softneck Silverskin variety, its flavor is known to be potent and enduring when compared to common grocery store softneck cultivars.
When cooked, Nootka Rose exudes a delightful aroma and contributes a strong, spicy essence to dishes, making it an exceptional choice for many culinary creations. With its prolonged storage capabilities, this garlic delivers its signature taste well into its shelf life.
How to grow Nootka Rose garlic
Growing Nootka Rose garlic entails different approaches depending on your local climate conditions. In general, the cloves are planted in the fall in cold areas where the ground freezes each winter, while the cloves are planted in early spring in coastal areas where the ground typically does not freeze.
Here’s how you can grow this garlic variety in cold areas where the ground freezes, as well as in milder coastal regions:
In cold climates where the ground freezes
Nootka Rose garlic is typically planted in the fall alongside hardneck varieties in climates where the soil freezes each winter.
Step 1: Soil preparation
In late summer or early fall, start by selecting a well-draining site with abundant sunlight. Pull out any weeds. Prepare the soil by incorporating organic matter, such as well-rotted manure or compost, to foster nutrient-rich and loamy soil with a pH of 6.0 to 7.0. Conduct a soil test to tailor your soil amendments accurately.
Step 2: Clove selection and planting
In mid-fall, choose large, healthy bulbs and separate them into individual cloves, leaving the skin on each clove. Plant the cloves pointed end up, about 2 inches deep and 6 to 8 inches apart in rows that are 10 to 14 inches apart. Mulch generously with straw to protect the garlic over winter and retain moisture.
Step 3: Spring maintenance
Come spring, remove excess mulch and ensure the soil remains moist but not waterlogged. Fertilize with a balanced fertilizer as the greens start to grow vigorously.
Step 4: Harvest
In late spring to early summer, harvest the garlic when the lower leaves turn yellow, but several green leaves remain, typically 240 days after planting. Cure the harvested bulbs in a dry, well-ventilated area for several weeks before storing.
In mild coastal areas where ground does not freeze
Nootka Rose garlic and some other varieties are commonly planted in early spring when grown in mild climates where the ground rarely freezes hard over winter. Workable ground in early spring allows for this timing, whereas the frozen soil in cooler areas makes early spring planting impractical.
Step 1: Soil preparation
In late winter to early spring, choose a sunny spot with good drainage. Enhance your soil with organic material to achieve a fertile, well-drained soil with a pH between 6.0 to 7.0. Remove any weeds or existing plant debris.
Step 2: Clove selection and planting
Nootka Rose and some other cultivars are planted in early spring in mild climates where the ground does not freeze. Just like with fall planting, select the best cloves from robust bulbs. Plant them 2-3 inches deep and about 6 to 8 inches apart.
Step 3: Maintenance
Remove any weeds that appear. Keep the soil evenly moist and fertilize as necessary to support vigorous growth. Mulching can help retain soil moisture and suppress weeds.
Step 4: Harvest
About ninety days after spring planting, your Nootka Rose garlic should be ready for harvest. Check a bulb or two to see before digging them all up. In general, it is ready to harvest when you notice several green leaves still remaining but the lower ones have turned yellow.
Allow the bulbs to cure in a dry, ventilated space before utilizing or storing them. Store in a cool, well-ventilated space. This variety is very long-lasting and can often be stored for 9-12 months in optimal home storage conditions.
Origins of Nootka Rose garlic
Nootka Rose heirloom garlic was popularized and distributed by Steve Bensel of Nootka Rose Farm, located on Waldron Island in the San Juan Islands of Puget Sound, Washington. The name of the cultivar and of the farm itself, “Nootka Rose,” derives inspiration from the Nootka people, also known as the Nuu-chah-nulth, who are Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast. The surrounding region and its indigenous peoples have played significant roles in the development and history of this particular garlic variety.
Throughout the years, Nootka Rose has gained a reputation not just for its culinary qualities but also for its visual appeal, making it a favorite for braiding and decorative purposes. As it has become more well-known, its cultivation has spread beyond the Pacific Northwest, but it remains a testament to the rich agricultural and cultural tapestry of the San Juan Islands and the broader Pacific Northwest region.