Saturday, October 13, 2018

Time to Plant Garlic

Choose large, blemish free and disease free cloves
For those who grow winter vegetables, it's time to plant garlic for next years crop. If you have never tried growing your own garlic, it is easy to grow with a few guidelines. 

Garlic is not suited for growing in containers, it is better in the ground or raised beds. Any time this month is good but definitely have it in the ground before the end of October. I used to plant later in the year but an October planting gives the root system more time to develop, therefore larger bulbs at harvest. Once warm weather appears in May, the plants are stimulated to form bulbs regardless of how much root system they have at the time.
February ~ pull mulch back a bit

To prepare the garlic for planting; separate the cloves but don't skin them. Use large, blemish free and disease free cloves. Dig over the soil well, add compost and rake the bed to level. Be sure not to compact the soil by stepping on it. Set each clove, pointed end up about 4-6 inches apart with the tip of the clove 1-2 inches deep. Plant deeper if frost or rain may expose the cloves and plant shallower if planting into heavier soil or mulching heavily.

April 2016 garlic crop
After planting, mulch the beds with a 3-6 inch layer of straw or dry leaves. This protects the soil from erosion and protects the cloves from being heaved up by frost. If you see tips of green shoots poking up in December or January, don't worry, garlic shoots are very hardy and will be fine. 

July 2015 Harvest
Once the sun is on the garden, (in my garden usually by late February), pull the straw mulch away from the emerging sprouts. Do not totally remove the mulch as the weather is still unpredictable. Fertilize the spring growth, water as needed and keep weeded. 

When the flowers develop at the top of the stalk, cut them to keep energy in the bulb. These are called garlic scapes and are delicious to use in stir fries, pickled or in my incredible 'Garlic Scape Pesto'. 

A whole new meaning to the term 'one clove of garlic'!
On a final note... 'White Rot' is a fairly common disease that causes black spots and decay on the bulbs. It is easily spread in infected soil and water ... and is very persistent in the soil. The best way to avoid it is not to leave decaying alliums in the ground and by using a strict 4-year rotation in your garden. 

I grow two varieties of garlic but hands down, these huge garlic cloves are my favorite! Each garlic bulb has only 2-4 huge cloves! Unfortunately I don't remember where I originally acquired the seed and don't know the name ... and no, it is not elephant garlic!! Each clove is equivalent to 3-4 'normal' garlic cloves but is slightly more mild in flavor than the other variety I grow. 

Until next time, enjoy your garden clean up jobs in the coming week of sunshine, and ... Bon App├ętit!

Photos by Sally Rae 

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