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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Growing Garlic


You can never 
have enough 
garlic.  With 
enough garlic, you can eat the New York times. 

Morley Safer 



On a recent visit to the local farmers market, I paused in front of the booth with all the beautiful garlic - there were baskets full of more types of garlic than I ever knew existed.  In that moment, I decided that garlic needed to find the way to my garden. 

The garlic lady who noticed my interest asked if she could help me.  "Yes, I want to grow some garlic"...somewhere in my memory was the file that told me that fall was the time to plant garlic so at least I appeared somewhat knowledgeable.  "Great!  October is just the right time to plant" she said.  I stood a little taller feeling like I had some gardening 'cred'.  LOL 

Her next question, took all the 'cred' out of my stance for sure.  "Are you looking for hardneck or softneck?"  Her question was meet with a blank stare....I had only ever gotten garlic from the bin at the grocery and had no idea there were different types.  Thank goodness she was kind and patient.

Softneck garlic is the type you usually find in the grocery.  It is mild and stores very well.  These are the types you might find in a cute little braided wreath which sounds like something I might like to do.

Hardneck garlic is more like wild garlic and has stronger and more complex flavors.  They won't last as long in storage but if cured can last six to ten months which seems plenty long to me.  The most wonderful thing about hardneck garlic is that the growing stalks produce the scape which is something I love to have in the summer. 

So, with the help of our local garlic lady, I chose some bulbs of both types - and the cloves are already separated and tucked snuggly into the garden bed.  You can easily tell them apart when you pull the cloves from the bulb.  The hardneck varieties have a definite hard stem right up through the middle of the bulb.  

To plant, carefully break the cloves from the bulb.  Plant them about 2 inches deep with the pointed end upward (root end down) and space about 8 inches apart.   Cover with some mulch and water weekly but do not over water which may cause the garlic to rot - garlic does not like overly wet soil. 

When the leaves above ground start to turn yellow or brown, it is time to harvest.  This will likely be toward the end of the summer and into autumn. Wash the soil away, let dry in a well-ventilated space and enjoy your harvest!   

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