Soft-Neck or Hard-Neck?
Soft-neck garlic grows a ring of large cloves around the perimeter of the bulb, plus another one or two rings of smaller cloves in the center. Most soft-neck varieties make large bulbs which, when properly cured and stored, can last 9-12 months. Their flavors and spiciness are varied, and soft-neck garlic has pliable stalks, so it can be made into beautiful garlic braids.
Hard-neck varieties grow with a strong central stalk, around which is a single ring of cloves, usually quite large and fat. They possess a wide range of flavor nuances and degrees of heat. The central stalk makes a charmingly curled or twisted, edible ‘scape’ in mid-late spring. Hard-neck garlic has stronger, more individual and complex flavors reflective of the regional soil and weather patterns, similar to wine. They are favorites for roasting. Hard-neck garlic is easy to peel, however it does not store as long as soft-necks — cure the bulbs and eat within 4-6 months.