GARLICS ARE LIKE WINES. Not only do they have varietal characteristics, but their taste exhibits "terroir", a modification of taste based on the soil in which they are growing. Furthermore, the specifics of the weather in any given year and the cultural practices used will also alter the taste of the final product.
Here, at Cumberland Orchids, we feel our cool, wet Springs followed by a hotter, dryer early Summer are ideal for garlic production. Our sandy soil is conditioned by years of wheat straw mulch. Wood ash (primarily oak and hickory) is liberally used for fertilization, which gives it's own smokey nuance. Our traditionally acid soils are modified using nearby Crab Orchard limestone, and our garlic is NEVER sprayed for insects (or anything else).
Unlike large, commercial growers, we only plant "stiffneck" varieties, which have much more flavor per clove. Stiffnecks usually have six or eight larger cloves per bulb and are, therefore, far more expensive to grow (a typical silverskin supermarket softneck may have 25 or more cloves of variable size). We feel, however, that the more robust and distinctive flavor, the storage qualities, ease of peeling and the sheer beauty of our heirloom German Red porcelain and Persian Star purple stripe varieties make the limited yield worth far more than the much larger crop of mediocre softneck bulbs we could have produced.