Monday, October 13, 2008

Growing your own garlic

Here is a frightening picture of me with cute Ripley ... he was helping to plant the little garlic bulbs ... so he can't be omitted! He did a great job following the general spacing of 4-6 inches apart and helping out in general.

Here are the little cloves setting in the troth I dug for them. Directions from Seeds of Change where I purchased my garlic seeds (which are simply very nice looking bulbs of garlic) state that "Garlic prefers a rich well-drained soil, full sun and should be weed free throughout the season. In colder climates (zone 3 - 6), the optimal planting time is about 6 weeks before the soil freezes (mid-fall, October or November). To plant, separate bulbs into individual cloves, placing the flat, scar end down 1 to 2 inches below the soil surface. General plant spacing is 4 - 6 " apart between cloves and 6" apart between rows. Mulch immediately after planting with leaves, straw or old hay. To ensure the most robust and vigorous plants, in spring, when young garlic is forming new leaf blades, apply a liberal top-dressing of compost and provide a steady supply of water. " I chose to plant "hardneck" garlic because this does better in colder climates. I read that soft neck garlic is typically grown in southern California and near the Gulf of Mexico -- clearly not my neck of the woods.

Here is Benjamin -- the CHAMP of the day. He hoed one of the rows, planted two rows of garlic and mulched all rows with old hay. He also went on to mulch my leeks for wintertime. Benjamin also wrote down the varieties for all of my row markers.

Here you can see one row planted, one row planted and covered with 1-2" of dirt from the bottom of the bulb, and one row completed.

Regarding harvest: Seeds of Change goes on to say "As day length and temps increase in late spring, leaf growth ceases and bulbs begin to form. At this point, you may need to reduce irrigating since waterlogged soils will cause garlic to mold or stain. As harvest approaches, plants will dry from the lowest leaf upward, and from the leaf tip to the stem. When approximately 50% of the leaves are dried and turn brown, harvest the bulbs. Hang bulbs inside a storage shed that has lots of air circulation. Hardneck garlic will be fully cured in 2 to 3 weeks under low humidity conditions. Allow more curing time and provide a fan or additional heat if high humidity or wet weather persists. Store in netted bags at room temp or slightly cooler (60-70F).

I've read of folks who just use garlic from the grocery store. I can't speak to that from experience -- but check out this blog.
Skippy's Vegetable Garden

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a. borealis said...

We just planted our garlic this past weekend too - Chrysalis Purple, German Extra Hardy, and Samarkand. Exciting!! I've been using the meager crop of Chrysalis Purple we harvested this summer (we planted a lot less last year) in recent meals and it is delightfully delicious - and so thrilling to know that we grew it ourselves.

Your yard and garden space looks so charming.

Stephanie said...

This is on my to do list for this week. Never planted it before so we'll see!