How to prepare your family to survive and thrive in todays uncertain world

How To Grow Garlic – Growing Garlic Made Easy!

In our kitchen, most savory dishes begin with garlic. Minced in sauces, chopped in soups, sliced and sautéed, roasted whole–we love our garlic! And like everything else we’ve raised, we think homegrown garlic is best. Thankfully, learning how to grow garlic isn’t all that hard.

When To Plant Garlic

Growing garlic is on our gardening minds right now, as it is best planted in the fall or winter. Gardeners in warm southern climates can plant garlic in late winter, but here in our true winter climate with guaranteed freezes, we plant it before the first heavy frost and snowfall. The plants appreciate a little time to develop roots before the ground freezes.

Garlic is not hard to grow. Put a little thought into the location and a little time into soil preparation and acquiring seed garlic, and you’ll likely be rewarded next year with a supply of your own fresh garlic to spice up your cuisine.

Where Garlic Grows Best

A sunny location is a key to growing good garlic. Avoid planting where garlic, onions, or other alliums have grown the previous year. The best planting bed would have fertile soil aerated with plenty of organic matter. The soil should drain well–raised beds work great–and have average pH (around 6.5).

Planting Seed Garlic

Garlic is not easily reproduced by seed, so unless you have endless patience and years to wait, I suggest starting with garlic cloves. Grocery store garlic may have been treated with substances that prevent growth, so good seed garlic heads are a wise investment the first year. After that, you can save some of your own garlic for planting the following year.

Seed garlic heads can be purchased from garden stores, nurseries, or trusted local garlic growers. Ask neighbors what varieties of garlic grow well in your area. Soft-neck garlic is the familiar basic grocery store garlic. Stiff-neck garlic, with cloves surrounding a stiff stem, usually stores better than soft-neck. Mild elephant garlic, which is actually a large leek relative, is treated like garlic and grown the same way.

Choose heads with large cloves, as larger garlic cloves will usually produce larger garlic heads. Before planting, separate the cloves carefully without removing the tiny roots at the bottom. Some gardeners peel the cloves to eliminate any hidden fungi or insect eggs, but that’s optional. Plant the cloves roots down, pointy ends up, about 6” apart in holes about 3” deep.

In climates where the ground freezes, mulch the garlic with several inches of straw, leaves, or other material. Containers planted with garlic should be protected around the sides and underneath. Tucked in for the winter, garlic plants will begin to establish themselves and should tolerate even bitter cold and heavy snow.

Growing Garlic In Containers

Garlic can be grown in containers as long as the wintering plants are insulated from the cold in all directions. A minimum of 12” soil depth is a good idea. The roots don’t actually need that much space, but the soil will serve as a barrier from the cold. Also, shorter containers will dry out faster during the growing season.

If you decide to grow garlic in a container, I recommend using a self watering planter that promotes moist but not wet soil. Spacing inside of a container is about two inches from any of the sides and six inches or so apart, just like in a regular garden bed.

When To Harvest Garlic

In early spring you’ll find green sprouts under the mantle of mulch. Rake the mulch away from the garlic plants to give them fresh air. During the spring and early summer, the garlic bulb will continue to develop as the plant sends up green leaves.

Each plant will send up a garlic scape, a curly stalk with a bulb at the top. The scapes should be cut off so the plant will put all its energy into the garlic bulb growth. Use shears or a sharp knife to avoid damaging the garlic plant.

Scapes are actually a trendy veggie these days, in demand at farmers’ markets. Served raw or cooked, scapes are often used for sautés and as an accent or garnish similar to a green onion. Scapes lend a garlic flavor to any dish and make a spectacular garlic pesto.

After cutting off the scapes, leave the garlic plant in the ground until the leaves have died down. This may take several weeks. Then carefully lift or dig up the bulbs with a fork or shovel, trying to keep the stalks intact.

How To Store Garlic

Your garlic can be used immediately, frozen, or cured for storage and later use. Any bulbs or cloves that were damaged by insects or during harvesting should be used quickly and not saved for storage. Just cut out the damaged part and the rest should be fine for cooking.

Garlic cloves can also be canned in a pressure canner, but NOT in a water bath canner. Garlic is a low acid vegetable, and botulism can result from improper canning. It is also unsafe to store garlic in oil at room temperature or in the refrigerator unless it has been pressure canned. Consult your local extension office for safe processing information.

There are several ways to cure garlic. Braiding the stalks is a creative and decorative method. Or you can lay the plants out on a screen with air circulation. They can also be dried on newspaper if turned frequently. When dry, remove the bulbs from the stalks and store in a cool dry area.

Save some of the largest and healthiest looking bulbs for planting in the fall. “Selective breeding” with your best seed garlic can improve your crop year by year.

When fall rolls around again, prepare a different planting bed and start your second generation of homegrown garlic!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

2 Responses to How To Grow Garlic – Growing Garlic Made Easy!

  1. This is an excellent primer on planting garlic. It’s just what I was looking for. Do you happen to know of a site that sell organic garlic cloves for planting?