'Cristo' is a softneck type garlic that has an intense but subtle flavour and elegant aroma – perfect for a wide variety of savoury dishes whether used raw in salad dressings or for cooking. Originating in France, this variety is well suited to the UK climate, producing large bulbs with papery white skins, with about 12 or more plump white cloves in each.
Unlike hardneck types, softneck garlic doesn't produce flower stems but will mature sooner and usually has a milder, although interesting flavour. Softneck garlic also has better storage properties – up to 3 months or more in good condition after harvesting. The garlic that is most commonly sold in supermarkets is softneck – but don't be tempted to propagate shop-bought garlic as it will be more prone to disease and crop far less efficiently than plants grown from these superior horticultural quality bulbs.
A worthy recipient of the RHS Award of Garden Merit, 'Cristo' is easy to grow and a reliable cropper – ideal for gardeners of any experience. Traditionally, garlic is planted on the shortest day of the year (21-22 December) and harvested on the longest (20-22 June), although it can be planted in the autumn or spring. Autumn plantings will produce earlier crops and although winter hardy, may benefit from protection from the cold – or can be grown in a greenhouse or tunnel. If planting in the spring, just wait until the frosts have gone before placing the cloves in the ground. 'Cristo' will thrive in a sunny spot in most well-draining soils. If your soil is heavy, prepare the plot in advance by digging in some well-rotted manure or garden compost (avoid using fresh manure) and also some sand or grit, to improve fertility and drainage. Alternatively, grow in good quality compost in raised beds, trugs or containers. Garlic doesn't take up much room, making it an ideal choice for small-space gardening. It is a good companion plant for roses and other plants or vegetables that are vulnerable to greenfly as its aroma will help to repel those little beasts!
Supplied as 2 bulbs ready to split into approximately 12 cloves for planting. Grows up to 60cm (24in) height by 15cm (6in) spread.