Growing Garlic

Today we had an abundant garlic harvest! I think garlic is the easiest crop to grow. Here’s how:

1.  Plant cloves of garlic in the garden in the fall time, first time around.

You can use grocery store garlic, and separate the bulb into cloves and plant them, point side up. You will probably have better success if you buy garlic at a local farmer’s market so you know it works in your climate. Plant nurseries have them too.  Once you get garlic going, it will replant itself every fall by producing little bulbs on top the seed stalks.  These dry and drop into the soil for next year’s crop, or you can collect them and plant them wherever you want.

2. Leave them in the ground when winter comes.

3. Enjoy their bright green presence when spring comes and all else is not yet growing.

Garlic will send up an artistic-looking curling seed stalk in late spring or early summer.  You can cut and eat these shoots when they are very young and tender, like green onions or chives.  Or you can put them in a vase with a flower arrangement. Or you can let them grow and set seed. The garlic cloves down in the soil actually grow around this central seed stalk (rather than through them, like onions). Experiments have shown that allowing the seed stalk to grow gives better garlic yields.

4. Slide them out of the ground in mid-summer when the bottom set of leaves turn brown.

Leave a few in the ground to go to seed (tiny bulbs on top will dry and drop into the soil) to make new garlic plants next season.

6. Braid them, after a fashion, and hang them up in the garage to dry.

If you live in a cold winter zone, you’ll grow “hardneck” garlic (which don’t really braid into those pretty Italian garlic braids of “softneck” mild-winter garlic varieties).  But we kind of braid it anyway.

7.  Enjoy fresh garlic all year long.

 

Louisa and her enormous garlic braid!

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