Soil to Table: Grow your own Garlic

cooking with garlic

Garlic is a flavorful and hearty ingredient in home-cooking. Originating in Central Asia, garlic has been utilized for both culinary and medicinal purposes all over the world. Now that Halloween is around the corner, I’m sure many of you will be thinking of its repellent properties. If only it worked on deer right?

There is nothing quite like the flavor of homegrown garlic. Right now at our store, we’ve got Kim’s beautiful Italian garlic bulbs grown out at our farm ready to plant. For those of you who are new to garlic farming, here are some F.A.Q. to guide you through planting to your first garlic crop next fall.

What kind of garlic should I plant?

Be sure when shopping for garlic to choose a healthy bulb. It should be firm when you squeeze it. You wouldn’t want to plant rotten cloves.

Where should I plant it?

You want your garlic to be high and dry through the winter rains. Raised beds are a good choice or anywhere that the soil drains freely. Also, try to site it where it will get a good amount of sun throughout the day, especially afternoon sun.

garlic shoots

Do I need to amend the soil?

We recommend that you add some of Gardener and Bloome’s ‘All Purpose’ Fertilizer when planting. Dig it in well, to the first six inches of soil. Don’t add too much, be sure to follow the directions for application rate.

The main requirement as we discussed above is that your garlic have drainage. If the soil where you intend to plant is soggy, you’ll want to amend it with something like Gardener and Bloome’s ‘Soil Building Compost’.

How deep do I plant it?

In our damp climate we recommend not planting more than one to two inches down. You are measuring from the top of the clove. Also, give them six to eight inches of space between each clove.

garlic scapesWhat do I do with the seedheads?

While garlic scapes are quite pretty, now is not the time to be sentimental. As soon as you see a seedhead forming. Go ahead and pull it off. This will re-direct the energy of the plant toward the bulbs.

Do I need to water my garlic?

Other than the initial watering-in, you won’t need to water your garlic through the fall to the spring. Unless we should get an unseasonable spate of dry weather. Garlic don’t need a ton of water. Use your judgement, if the soil feels moist, you don’t need to water. In the fall, once harvest approaches, cut back on the watering.

How do I fertilize them?

When you first plant and then again in the spring, after the last frost you can start fertilizing your garlic every few weeks with a high nitrogen liquid fertilizer such as ‘Daniel’s Plant Food’ until they begin to bulb.

When can I harvest my garlic?

Garlic are similar to potatoes in the sense that they will let you know when it’s time to harvest. Their leaves will turn brown and die back to the ground in the early autumn. Then you can break out your shovel and start digging.

garlic harvest

If the weather is warm and dry you can leave the bulbs on the ground. If the weather feels uncertain, bring them inside and hang them up or place them on a screen to dry. Now the fun comes. Try a recipe like this or this or this. OrĀ if you’ve still got basil, why not make some fresh pesto?

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