The origins of this pink hardneck garlic are from Kazakstan and it would have made its way East eventually ending up in the French village of Lautrec where it has been popular since the Middle Ages. Stories are told of a wandering salesman who was unable to pay for his meal at a local tavern; he settled his bill with a mysterious pink garlic. The surprised tavern owner decided to plant it and the pink garlic has been common to the area ever since.
The true Ail Rose de Lautrec has a PGI meaning it can only be called Ail Rose de Lautrec if grown in the Lautec area. Only 148 growers are allowed to grow it in the local area and retain the PGI. You can still grow the garlic outside it but you cannot give it the same name.
In the Kitchen
I found Lautrec to be a really delicious garlic, quite sweet, creamy and slightly perfumed. It still packs quite a punch so I wouldn’t use it raw.
Yield and plant health
Lautrec Garlic is an Autumn planted hardneck garlic. The bulbs I grew were on the petite side but that meant a more concentrated flavour. In terms of plant health all garlic have the same issues so no garlic has an advantage over the other.
Garlic comes in a couple of different types, hard neck and soft neck. The difference is the stem that comes up from the bulb. In hard neck the stem is hard, soft neck…soft.
Hard neck bulbs in general are slower growing, have fewer but bigger cloves and do not store quite as well as soft neck.
Soft neck varieties mature faster so can be better in cooler climates, have more but smaller cloves and store for longer than hard necks. Their softer stem means they can also be plaited in to the traditional garlic plaits seen in traditional food markets.
On top of this you also get varieties of garlic that are best sown in autumn or others which can be sown in spring. Do buy garlic bulbs from a reputable supplier to reduce the risk of bringing onion rot on to your site.
Garlic likes a sunny, well-drained site. Before planting dig in some well-rotted organic matter. Break the bulbs in to individual cloves, discarding any that are damaged or small. Plant the individual cloves pointed side up, 2.5cm deep and 15cm apart, leaving 30 cm between rows.
Water only during dry spells in spring and early summer and not at all once the leaves start to turn yellow. Keep weed free by mulching or weeding by hand to prevent damage to shallow roots.
Harvest starts in June/July. The leaves will be starting to brown. Harvest during a dry period by gently loosening the roots with a fork before lifting the garlic. Don’t pull hard or you may leave the bulb in the ground.
Dust the earth off the roots and trim them before drying. The most successful method of drying in the UK is to tie several bulbs together with string and suspend in a cool dark place such as a shed or garage. After several weeks you can either trim the stems or plait and continue to store in a cool dark place.
Garlic can suffer from four main problems Firstly is rust which will appear in warm damp conditions. It makes the plants look a little unsightly and will stunt growth a little but will not affect the bulbs or storage. There are no current rust resistant varieties.
The second problem is allium leaf miner who pupae burrow down in to the follage and can cause rotting. The only organic solution for this if it is on your plot is to cover with insect mesh and do not allow the foliage to touch the mesh and rotate your crops on an annual basis.
If you find your cloves pulled out it is most likely to be birds which may pull out cloves when they are first planted. Give them a check every couple of days and replant.
The final issue you will not spot until it is too late is that garlic bulbs need a prolonged period of cold to split otherwise they tend to produce one giant bulb. This is especially an issue for Elephant Garlic. It is worth before planting your garlic exposing it to a very cold fridge before you plant. This is especially important for any garlic that you plant in spring rather than in Autumn. There is nothing wrong with one giant clove and it can be used in cooking as normal, it is just not what most people are after.