It is important to make the right decision when it comes to choosing which garlic variety or varieties to plant in your polytunnel. Which variety you should plant will depend on where you live and what the conditions are like there. It will also depend on when you wish to plant your garlic, as some are best for autumn planting, while others will do better when planted in the early spring. A polytunnel will allow you to plant varieties that will not usually fare as well where you live, so you are likely to have a few more options than you might otherwise do, especially if you live further north in the UK.
Garlic comes in softneck and hardneck varieties and knowing the differences between them will help you narrow down the field of options a little for your situation. Softneck garlic has white, papery skin. It will rarely produce a flower head and will store for longer. It is however less tolerant of prolonged cold temperatures and is therefore better suited to more southern locations. It can however be grown with extra protection throughout most of the UK. Hardneck garlic has fewer cloves per bulb and will store for only a shorter period. It is, however, more hardy and cold tolerant and can be easily grown even in northern reaches of the UK. It is also sometimes said to have a stronger and more complex flavour.
Lautrec Wight – this variety produces pretty pink-hued bulbs.
Chesnok Red – this garlic has a creamy texture and is good for roasting.
Early Purple Wight – this is one of the earliest Autumn planting garlics and can be harvested as early as May.
Wight Cristo – good uniform crops can be achieved with this variety.
Albigensian Wight – this variety is known to store very well.
Cledor – This is an extremely high-yielding variety which can have up to 10-16 cloves per bulb.
Germidour – a reliable cropper with a slightly milder flavour.
If you are looking for something a little bit different to grow this year then you could consider elephant garlic. It produces giant bulbs from cloves that can be planted in autumn or spring.
Whichever garlic you grow, it is a crop that can offer fantastic yields over a relatively small space and gives good value in a vegetable garden.