Garlic is a popular vegetable that has been a staple in culinary and medicinal uses since ancient times. It’s easy to grow and takes little space in your garden. The only catch is that you have to wait several months for the bulb to fully develop before you can dig it out of the ground and chop it into your dishes. Typically, it takes about 8 months to grow the biggest garlic bulbs from an autumn planting. Through spring planting can reach maturity in about 100 days, the bulb size will be smaller.
If you can’t wait too long to harvest your homegrown bulbs or the growing season in your region is shorter than usual, here is a list of some of the fastest maturing garlic cultivars. Pick your favorite fastest-growing garlic variety to grow this season.
Early Purple Wight
As the name suggests, this is an early maturing variety. Early Purple wight is one of the first ones to come to harvest with large bulbs ready to be picked by mid-May to early June. The white bulbs push out of the ground as they expand, revealing the purplish streaks on the skin. The variety is best planted between September to December for the perfect results.
The strong-flavored bulbs work perfectly in several dishes. It’s a softneck garlic variety, but unlike other softneck garlic, Early Purple Wight doesn’t store well. It’s best used within three months of harvesting the bulbs.
California Early Softneck Garlic
Sometimes called “Cal-Early,” it is mild-tasting garlic that’s popular among gardeners for its storage qualities and adaptability to different climates. It’s a softneck variety and can store for up to 6 months. When you plant it in spring, you can expect to harvest bulbs within 90 days. However, a fall planting will take a little longer to mature – around 240 days.
It’s an heirloom variety that’s best planted in full sun. Whether you opt for a spring planting or a fall planting, wait until the foliage turns yellow and falls over before harvesting the bulbs from the ground.
Russian Red is an early-maturing hardneck variety and can tolerate slightly damp soil conditions. It’s heirloom garlic with intense flavor that’s a perfect mix of bitter and sweet. The bulbs are typically 2″ or larger in diameter and carry 6 to 9 cloves each.
When planted in spring or summer, it takes between 90 to 154 days to grow mature bulbs. Fall or winter planting will take between 225 to 240 days to grow to maturity. Though you can enjoy a faster harvest with spring planting, you’ll have to compromise on the bulb size.
Spanish Roja is a common hardneck variety that most gardeners prefer growing for the ‘true garlic’ flavor it adds to recipes. The bulbs are white in color with deep purple stripes and carry 8 to 9 brownish red cloves within the outer coating. Fall planted garlic is harvested the following season in about 240 days, but you can expect much faster growth with a spring planting, which matures in just 90 days.
The cloves are easy to peel and offer a distinct hot flavor that chefs look for. The variety is hardy in zones 5 to 10 and grows best in full sunlight. When stored unpeeled, you can use it for 5 months.
Early Red Italian
Early Red Italian is an early-season artichoke garlic variety that produces large white heads with around 8 cloves per bulb. True to its name, Early Red Italian is ready to be harvested weeks before many other varieties. It’s heat tolerant, and in northern regions, you can plant it in spring to harvest in the fall.
It’s widely cultivated commercially throughout the United States for reliable and fast results and excellent storage. In fact, the mild garlic flavor strengthens during storage. It lasts several months when stored properly. You can consume it raw or add it to sauces, stews, soups, and several other recipes.
Red Toch is an artichoke variety sought by many growers for the perfect flavor and vigorous growing habits. The cloves have a mild, complex flavor and an aroma that brings a great addition to dips, salads, sauces, and all other recipes where it is to be used uncooked. It works equally great in recipes where cooking is required.
Despite the large bulbs it produces, each having 12 to 18 cloves within, Red Toch matures earlier than other varieties. Many gardeners like to plant in autumn, 6 to 8 weeks before the first frost, for a spring harvest. In mild winter regions, it’s best planted in winters because garlic needs cool temperatures to grow the biggest bulbs.
Extra Early Wight
Originating from China and developed in France, Extra Early Wight is the fastest growing white garlic you will find. When planted in autumn, you can harvest the crop as early as May, weeks before the other varieties are ready to be dug.
The hardy variety is reliable for overwintering, even in the cooler regions, so most growers plant it in autumn. The white-skinned bulbs hold 6 to 10 cloves each, which offer a crisp, fresh flavor and hold their shape well when sliced and sauteed. Other than giving an early crop, Extra Early also stores well and can be used until November/December when harvested in May.
When looking for the fastest growing garlic variety, there are several choices available. The growing time will also vary with your region’s climate, so choose something suitable for your climate. Make sure the variety you choose is hardy to your growing zone before growing it in your garden.