Planting Garlic is Simple and Easy

Planting garlic is a must in our vegetable garden. We use so much garlic in our cooking that I can’t be without a continuous supply.

I wasn’t sure that I could grow garlic with our short season and freezing winters.

I learned that garlic needs to over winter to promote setting of a nice bulb of garlic with good size cloves the following spring.

So growing garlic in the north is the best for nice sized cloves.

Of all the vegetables and herbs I have grown, I have to say garlic is the easiest. Once you plant the cloves it takes care of it’s self. Apply a little mulch before winter and come spring, nice shoots begin to grow at the first signs of spring.

You’ll find that home grown garlic has better flavor than the store bought varieties. Once you start your garlic you can plant from your stock year after year and you will not be disappointed.

Planting Garlic should be bought from your local nursery or order some varieties from online companies. The varieties are endless but come in two types. Softneck and hardneck.

Softneck garlic has a soft stock and stores well, up to a year. Most grocery stores sell the softneck varieties. Softneck garlic dose not have a flower stem so after harvesting you can braid the stems together for storage and drying.

Softneck varieties grow well in warmer climates with mild winters. The bulbs produce 6 to 18 cloves around the soft center.

    Early Red Italian Garlic an early season garlic with a mild flavor good in sauces and eating raw. The bulbs are wrapped in white wrappers with light purple markings.

    Organ Blue Garlic a mid season heirloom garlic that produce very well. It has a hot flavor with dark green leaves. Good storage garlic.

    Polish Softneck Garlic a mid season garlic that is larger than most softneck garlic’s. It does well in northern climate as well and in the southern areas. A hot garlic that stays hot even after roasting. Good for braiding.

Hardneck garlic varieties has a hard flower stem that grow up through the center of the garlic bulb called a scape and produces small bulb like flowers. The scapes can be harvested and eaten. Make sure to harvest when they are young and tender.

Because of the flower stem it produces fewer cloves, about 5 to 10 per bulb. Hardneck garlic stores for up to 6 months. Because of the hard stem it does not braid well. Hardneck garlic varieties grow well in the cold north.

    German Porcelain A nice large bulb with 4 to 6 cloves. Has a good flavor and mild not hot. Grow in zones 3 thru 9 does best if planted in the fall but grows well in all climates. Stores well.

    Elephant Garlic is the largest variety you can grow with 10 cloves per bulb weighing up to a pound. Has a mild garlic flavor but is really in the leek family. Hardy to zones 3 thru 9. Can plant in early spring or fall.

    Shilla is a turban garlic from Korea and easy to grow in the home garden. Plant in the fall for an early spring harvest. Keeps into November.

Planting Garlic

Garlic grows well in most soils. Choose a spot in full sun and a place that drains well. Work in compost several inches deep.

If you are using a mulched no-till-garden your work is already done, just pick a nice location that is free of vegetables.

I planted my garlic where I removed the onions and cabbage earlier.

We like planting garlic in the fall here because of our cold winters, usually in October. If you live in a warmer climate plant your garlic in the early spring.

When the ground is ready separate your garlic bulbs into the individual cloves. Be careful not to damage them. Use the biggest cloves for planting and save the smaller ones to eat.

Space the cloves 6 inches apart and plant them 2 to 3 inches deep with the root side down. That’s the side the clove is attached to the bulb. Cover each clove with soil and pat down.

Mark you row if you would like to keep track of the garlic. Cover with a layer of mulch going into winter to protect the soil. It that easy!

As the weather warms you’ll notice the garlic shoots emerging from the mulch. I found that my garlic took care of itself and I just keep the weeds down and watered.

As the garlic begins to mature the hardneck varieties will send up flower stems called scapes. Some have said to remove these to promote larger garlic and others have said they didn’t have much difference between keeping scapes and cutting them.

I left mind on as I was to busy to cut them and my harvest was great.

Your planting garlic needs an inch of water every week. If you have sandy soil you’ll want to water more often to maintain even moisture.

As the bulbs begin to mature at the end of June stop watering. When the bottom leaves turn brown the garlic is ready. That’s usually the middle of July here in the north.

When the leaves on about half of the stems have turned yellow and brown you can begin to harvest the planted garlic.

If you leave the garlic in the ground past it’s prime the bulb of cloves will begin to break apart.

Use a garden fork to loosen the soil around the garlic and gently pull the bulbs out of the ground.

Shake off the soil and bundle the plants together in 5 to 10 plant bundles and store in a warm dry place out of the sun to cure for 2 weeks.

You can hang them or just spread them on a table layered with paper. After the bulbs are dry, cut the stems off 2 inches above the garlic bulb. Brush of any extra soil and trim the roots.

They will continue to dry. Store the dried Garlic in a cool place around 50 to 60 degrees F for a longer storage life.

You’ll want to save the best garlic bulbs for planting garlic in the fall. It can be expensive to purchase garlic every year so save some and keep your harvest going.

Enjoy your home grown garlic in your favorite dishes.

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