Garlic (Allium sativum) is commonly used as a flavoring for food, as a condiment, and for medicinal purposes. The milder-flavored elephant garlic (Allium ampeloprasum) is actually a leek that produces large cloves.
Direct marketing (farmers markets, roadside and on-farm stands, community supported agriculture) is the most-used option for Kentucky-grown garlic. Wholesaling garlic to local supermarkets and specialty food stores is also an option. In addition to whole bulbs, garlic can be sold in a number of other forms. Immature plants may be marketed as ‘scallions,’ also referred to as ‘green garlic.’ Flower stalks (scapes) harvested from hardneck types, sought as an ingredient in spreads and pestos, can be sold as a specialty item. Tops may be sold as greens.
Garlic cultivars are grouped into two main categories: hardneck (produce a scape) or softneck (do not produce a scape); both types can be grown in Kentucky. Other traits that can differ between cultivars include clove arrangement, number of cloves, size of cloves, color, skin tightness, and flavor. Some of these characteristics can change depending on the production location and environmental conditions, thereby complicating varietal selection. Even hardneck and softneck designations can break down in different climates. Growers should select only adapted varieties that have the qualities in demand for the intended market.