Bandicooting the elephant garlic

Earlier this year I posted about planting garlic in my garden, Garlic and Gumboots. The ordinary garlic is sprouting away but the elephant garlic is not visible at all.

So I decided to use an old gardening trick, normally used for checking out the crop of potatoes or for harvesting some very early potatoes before the whole plant is ready for pulling. This trick has been named “bandicooting”. A fellow blogger in America has posted on potato bandicooting and he offers the following:

To bandicoot a potato is a simple matter. The soil surrounding the potato plant is moistened until it yields to probing trowel or hand. The small, immature spuds near the surface are carefully harvested leaving their deeply positioned brethren to grow.
For readers of a certain age (5-100) and nationality (Australian) the phrase ‘bandicoot potatoes’ is instantly familiar if not evocative. The bandicoot is a small marsupial resident of Australia. Similar in appearance to a rat and armed with the foraging bravado of a pig bandicoots are famed villains in the Australian garden. Bandicoots are said to sense the first moment when a sweet potato can be dug or a melon’s debut to sweetness. Their larcenous, sly habits are immortalized in Australian slang. To “bandicoot” is to steal but with a touch of flair and skill.
Writer: C.Lindquist. Vegetables of Interest blog 2008


My Mum was a great potato grower and would often report she had been bandicooting and then enjoying some tasty new potatoes with fresh mint and a little butter, salt and black pepper.

My bandicooting today determined that the elephant garlic bulblets were simply sitting beneath the soil, showing no signs of growth or development. I have since emailed an expert for advice. I have learnt that elephant garlic is actually a member of the leek family and probably should be planted in early spring and not at the shortest day. I may yet have to dig up my bulblets and replant them in early spring and with the tip showing above the soil, not buried beneath. What an interesting plant and so much to learn about the cultivation of it.


8 thoughts on “Bandicooting the elephant garlic

  1. Juliet batten

    I’ve never heard of bandicooting, but it sounds like a useful practice to tuck into my bag of tricks. How interesting about the elephant garlic – maybe it’s been misnamed.

    1. ordinarygoodness Post author

      Bandicooting certainly has a comical ring to it too which I enjoy. There is a story called “The Magic Pudding” that was written in 1918 that features a bandicoot and some other Australian animals evidently. Elephant garlic seems to require different cultivation to ordinary garlic. It is also known as Russian garlic.

  2. Pingback: Spring showers and small elephants « ordinarygoodness

  3. Pip

    I’ve just dug my elephant garlic and I might plant the bulblets today, Jan 1st, as the ones I planted last June are nowhere to be seen. Pip

    1. ordinarygood Post author

      All my bulblets have gone to ground too. They can surprise me with new shoots when I am not expecting them. They can take time to mature. Enjoy your fresh garlic once it has dried off Pip.


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