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. Or if you’ve still got basil, why not make some fresh pesto?

Panning for Gold: Worm Bins 101 Class this Saturday

chopped-foodworm binHave you ever thought about making compost at home? Maybe even building a worm bin?

If you’re interested in starting a worm bin but aren’t sure where to begin, Elsie Konzelman of Nature’s Footprint will be at our store this Saturday, Sept. 21st to teach you the basics. (Get more info here.) The class is free, and all attendees will receive a coupon for 25% off our worm bins.

We talked with Elsie recently and she gave us the lowdown on worms and compost and why people start worm bins to begin with.

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First of all, why worms?

Why not worms? Also known as “black gold“, worm compost is the best, richest organic soil amendment that you can generate for your garden. It is packed with nutrients, ten times that of regular compost.worm bin 1

Not to mention the fact that you can reduce your household waste by up to 30% by using a worm composter. Also, a worm bin is much more compact and convenient than a traditional compost pile.

Ah convenience, we like that! What kind of worms should we use? Can we dig up some earthworms from our backyard?

You can, but they won’t help you much. You want composting worms, such as red wigglers. They eat decomposing matter versus earthworms who feed on subsoil. Red wigglers will turn your kitchen scraps into compost quite rapidly.

Now we come to the “banana” question. We’ve heard that bananas are “bad” for worms but we’ve also heard that worms love bananas….. where do you stand on this very important question?

foodWell, let’s start with the fact that worms will eat just about any organic matter. And they do enjoy bananas, in fact they devour them!

One thing you don’t want to load up on in your worm bin are citrus fruits like lemons, limes or oranges. The worms don’t like the acidity of the fruit, and they’ll wait for them to break down before eating them, which will slow down the overall process of composting.

Thank Elsie!

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To read more about worms and worm bins, check out the Nature’s Footprint site here.

To register for our free class this Saturday just call the store 360-676-5480, drop by or register online. It’s that simple!