As the leaves change and we begin to see our summer gardens come to an end, there’s one crop in particular that comes to my mind. Garlic! Of all the things I’ve grown, consistently garlic has been the easiest and most reliable. Plus, it’s so easy to store and I know without a doubt that my family will use all of it. When you grow garlic, it’s like you get it in the ground, basically just forget about it…and in return, nature gives you one of the best flavors known to man. Even if you’ve never grown anything before, I think you should try this!
Fall planting (with an early summer harvest) is recommended for the largest, tastiest bulbs, but if you happen to forget to get your garlic in, you can still plant it in the winter. I’ve planted in December before and it still grew well.
Although you can plant store-bought garlic cloves, it is preferable to find an organic bulb or local garlic at a farmer’s market, so you know it hasn’t been treated with any pesticides or chemicals.
Plant your garlic in the ground, in a raised bed or even in a planter! You do not need to have a big garden for this!
To plant garlic:
Break the bulb into cloves and choose the largest cloves to plant. Be sure to leave the papery covering on them. Garlic prefers full sun and well-drained soil so plan your spot accordingly.
Plant the cloves pointy side up about 4-6 inches apart and with the tip about 3 inches below the surface. You can mulch the cloves with about 4 inches of chopped straw, leaves or hay. The mulch will keep the soil a more even temperature through the winter which helps the roots remain in place and also helps to retain moisture and keep weeds down.
In the spring, when the shoots start to poke through, remove the mulch. Snap off any ‘scapes’, the thin curly stems that grow from the center of the clove. They drain energy needed to grow the new bulb.
Dig up your bulb with a trowel and wipe off any dirt and then leave in an airy, shady spot for two weeks. You can braid them or tie them into bunches.
Once the wrappers are dry and papery, and the roots dried, you can then cut the tops and roots off and store in a pantry, or just remove the roots and leave the bulbs braided, hanging in a cupboard or pantry. Be sure to save the largest cloves to replant the following fall.
Have to ever planted garlic? If not, this might be the perfect year for you to try it! I would love to hear your experiences growing garlic….