MOTHER EARTH NEWS

A Variety for Changing Climates

How can I develop a hardier garden in the face of volatile weather patterns?

Floods, droughts, ruined harvests—by now, many of us have experienced extreme weather events, and we may experience more. So, developing, saving, and sharing locally adapted seed is a key piece of building garden resilience. For me, one such seed is ‘Bob Steffen’s Hardneck’ garlic.

Garlic isn’t typically grown from seed. It’s grown by saving a few of the plumpest bulbs at harvest time, separating the bulbs into cloves, and planting those cloves the same fall. Nonetheless, some folks call it “seed garlic” and grow it each year to continue the existence of favored varieties.

Bob Steffen was the farm superintendent of Boys Town (a home for at-risk children in Nebraska) from 1943 to 1977. He promoted commercial-scale organic and biodynamic farming methods in the Midwest, and he spent a lifetime breeding the cultivar that’s now named after him. I’m one of only three

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