Planting, Growing and Harvesting Garlic From Your Garden
Growing your own garlic is easy, as long as you are patient. Garlic comes in a bulb made up of 10-15 individual cloves held together by a papery membrane. It is an ideal plant to grow as it does not take up much room in the garden. Plant garlic in the fall or early spring.
Where to Get Garlic
We know this is frowned on by garlic aficionados, but we have had good success simply purchasing garlic bulbs from the vegetable section of our local grocery stores. If you want to get a little more fancy, specific varieties can be purchased from online seed companies.
Where To Plant Garlic
Garlic prefers a sunny, well drained location. Raise planters are ideal but there is no reason it could not be planted in any garden amongst other vegetables or even ornamental plants. It is a good idea not to plant garlic where it or any other plant from the onion family was recently grown.
As garlic prefers fertile, well drained soil, the area should be tilled down to about 6” depth. Mix in organic matter and a general fertilizer such as 10-10-10.
Gently break the bulbs apart into separate cloves. Dig rows in the soil approximately 1”-2” deep and 1’ apart from each other. Place the cloves in the rows pointed side up spacing them 4” apart. Gently fill back in the rows. Conversely, if the soil is very well tilled, you could simply push the cloves into the soil to the proper depth.
After planting, lay down a protective layer of mulch using straw, chopped leaves or even grass clipping. In colder climates, the mulch should be about 4” deep. This will keep the garlic from getting heaved out of the ground and help reduce weeds.
Care For Garlic
In the spring when the leaves begin to grow, gently work a little blood meal into the soil near each plant. Add a little mulch if it has broken down over winter. When the garlic produces stalks, also known as scapes, cut them off so that all of the plant’s energy goes into developing the new bulb. The scapes can be used in cooking much the way scallions are used or even in floral decorations. Water regularly until the plant stops producing new leaves. At this point, stop watering and remove the remaining mulch. It is okay to let the soil dry out at this point.
Harvesting and Storing Garlic
When most of the leaves turn brown, it is time to harvest your garlic! Generally, this happens from mid July to early August. Carefully dig them up. Do not let garlic stay in the ground too long or the cloves may begin to separate or even rot.
Lay them out in a shady, airy spot for 2-3 weeks. It is important that they not get wet so bring them in if it is going to rain. Store them in a cool, airy place until you are ready to use them. You may want to set aside some of larger bulbs for planting next season.
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