Growing garlic is a very rewarding project for your garden. Garlic is a tasty good-for-you plant. Plus, it is one of the easiest plants to grow in the garden. If you have not tried growing your own garlic you are in for a treat. Much like the vegetables in your garden home grown garlic is full of flavor.
Choosing the Right Garlic to Grow
There are two major classifications of garlic, softneck and hardneck. The softneck are better for the warmer areas and the hardneck for the cooler climates. The tops of the softneck are more pliable when ready for harvest and can be braided. Maybe, that is why they are called softnecks? The hardnecks turn brown, but cannot be braided.
So, the type to grow depends, somewhat, on where you live. I live in the Mid-west and raise German white. I have tried others, but this variety seems to produce the best.
That is a good tip for you.
Try different things in your garden. I am always experimenting with different vegetables, varieties and growing methods. Don’t be afraid to try something new.
Planting garlic is easy. I usually do not till the soil unless it is a new plot and is firm. I just clean off any weeds, add some compost, loosen the soil with a fork, level the surface and plant. Separate the bulbs into individual cloves, open the soil about with a trowel, plant each clove one inch deep and cover, space garlic about 4 inches apart in double rows, or even triple rows if you have the room.
I like to mulch with a little straw just in case they start to sprout before winter and to keep the ground from freezing and heaving. The cloves will start to set roots over winter and be ready to grow in the early spring.
It is a joy to see the sprouts coming up through the mulch. That let’s you know spring is on the way. Plus, the mulch will make a good weed barrier the next summer.
My garlic seems to respond well to good compost. I like to put on about 1 inch of compost in the fall at planting. Then in spring, if I think they need it, I will top dress with liquid seaweed and fish emulsion.
If you have mulched well in the fall they will need little else until harvest. You may have to pull an occasional weed that makes it through the mulch, but that is it.
Scapes are the tender tops on the hardneck garlic. They are good for salads and stir fry. Be sure to pick them early as they can get strong as they mature. It is a good practice to remove the scapes anyway as the garlic bulbs will get more energy and grow larger with the scapes removed.
When the tops of the plant have turned brown it is time to harvest. To harvest garlic simply pull them out of the ground if you have loose soil. If they resist then take your garden fork and gently lift them from the soil.
Shake off the loose dirt and hang, or lay, in a protected area to dry. The softneck garlic tops can be braided to hang, which makes a nice decoration.
Curing and Storing
Let the plants dry and brush off any remaining dirt. You may clip the roots or leave them on. The ideal way to store is in an onion or potato mesh bag. I put mine in a paper bag and they seem to do fine.
Keep the bulbs in a cool place in your home. The ideal temperature is 55 to 70 degrees with moderate humidity. Mine keep until late spring in my back room.
I use a lot of garlic powder, so I slice the cloves into thin slices, place in the food dryer and chop into a course powder in a nut grinder. The result is a very tasty garlic powder that is more course than what you buy, making it easier to use.
Give garlic growing a try. You are sure to enjoy many meals from what you grow. This is just one more step in getting closer to growing what you eat. By following the above easy steps you now know how to grow garlic in your garden. Give it a try.
I wish you the best of health for you and your family,
Steve Wisley has been gardening organically for over a quarter of a century. Gardening is a great way to, not only grow great tasting, healthy, chemical free food that is good for your family, but gardening is reconnecting with your soul. It is getting your hands in the stuff that life is based upon, and it can heal some of hurt you feel inside.
Steve started this blog to guide others in starting and improving their organic garden to produce healthy, nutritious, great tasting food for their family. Pick up your copy of the booklet “6 Easy Common Sense Tips To Ban Bugs From Your Garden Without Chemicals”.