The spectacular Elephant garlic is more closely related to leeks than regular garlic and is commonly known as the ‘wild leek’. Easy and rewarding to grow, this hardy perennial herb produces massive, papery-skinned bulbs that can measure up to 10-15cm (4-6in) in diameter, each with 5 or 6 huge cloves. It is a perfect choice for the kitchen garden or for adding a touch of drama to your herbaceous borders.
Milder and sweeter in flavour than smaller varieties, Elephant garlic makes a versatile and interesting cooking ingredient. Grate it raw for salads and dressings; slice it finely for stir-fries; or best of all, bake or roast whole bulbs and squeeze out the lovely creamy centres for an unusual vegetable or dip, for spreading on crusty bread, or adding to mashed potato. Also great for the barbeque – just wrap them in foil and throw them on the grill! Cloves can be used fresh and succulent, or after they have been dried and stored over a few weeks or months, when they will have a more intense flavour.
A native of Asia, Elephant garlic thrives in a sunny position in well-drained soil, although can tolerate a heavier soil than smaller garlic varieties. Its large, broad, flattish blue-green leaves and sturdy flower stems will rise tall and proud in your vegetable garden – or make a striking feature in a mixed border. The pinky-purple blooms appear in June and July; they are pretty enough but should be trimmed early so the plant concentrates its goodness in the swelling bulb. Cut the flowers for your vase or leave just a few in your borders for dramatic effect.
Supplied as 4 planting cloves to produce 4 plants. Elephant garlic can be placed in the ground any time from September to February, avoiding times of frost or extreme cold. Grows to 1.5m (5ft) high by 30cm (12in) wide.
How to grow Elephant garlic