Garlic Growers Find Flavors, Friendship

Nearly thirty local gardeners gathered in a Reno classroom Thursday night to learn from one of their own about growing heirloom garlic in the high desert. They were joined via interactive video by gardeners from around the state.

Their two-hour class presented information on soil preparation, garlic selection and proper planting, and it included taste tests. Various varieties of heirloom garlic prepared in many different ways were sampled alone and with breads and cheeses. The discussion of selecting heirloom garlic for flavor was important to local foodies.

Class participant Dale Hildebrandt said, “The variation of garlic that you can buy, receive or grow yourself is so vast that you have to want to try a lot.” Hildebrandt said choices depend on a person’s culinary tastes, and she will be trying a Russian variety in her salsa recipe. Laughing, she says “it should be pretty good.”

The variation of garlic that you can buy, receive or grow yourself is so vast that you have to want to try a lot. Photo by Ashley Nickole Andrews.
The variation of garlic that you can buy, receive or grow yourself is so vast that you have to want to try a lot. Photo by Ashley Nickole Andrews.

Class instructor Earstin Whitten shared the reasons why he got into heirloom garlic. “First of all,” said Whitten, “I like the history behind it. And secondly, it’s a pure quality that has been passed down through several generations.” Whitten says he wants to grow the best garlic ever. After voicing his goal, he, like Hildebrant, laughs.

As aromas from and exclamations about the taste test permeate the room, Whitten talks about Nevada’s community of gardeners, brought together that night by University of Nevada Cooperative Extension’s Grow Your Own, Nevada! Program.

Listing what he loves about the gardening community, Whitten says, “There is so much you can talk about. It really gets back to nature. People who garden usually have a healthier lifestyle. I really like that.”

He pauses and says, “You will always find friends if you’re a gardener. Always.”

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