Garlic planting

This past weekend I taught a garlic planting workshop at a community garden. Thought I would share some of this info in the blog. (Funny how much I learned – even though I have been growing garlic for some time!)

Garlic Planting Workshop

Planting: Plant garlic in loamy, well draining soil. Prior to planting make certain garden
bed is well prepared with compost and soil is loose enough for garlic bulbs to fully develop. Separate garlic cloves from the main bulb, leaving the wrappers on the clove, and plant each clove root end down (pointy side up). Important tip: Make certain to obtain locally grown garlic for planting – this will make a huge difference in the quality of your harvest (check out the farmers market).

Seed Depth: 2-3″                         Seed Spacing: 8″                          Row Spacing: 8″

Care: Keep weeds to a minimum so they do not compete with growth of garlic. Use a thick layer of mulch (straw) to create a weed barrier. In our arid climate garlic needs to be watered throughout the growing season.

Harvest: Pull garlic when the bottom few leaves of stalk are dry, and discolored. The upper part of the stalk will still be green. This occurs in late July. Do not wait until the entire stalk is brown and fallen over – this is too late and there will be a chance that the garlic bulbs will have split. Be gentle in handling the garlic when harvesting; they can easily bruise and this will shorten their storage life.

Harvest when soil is fairly dry. Use a shovel or pitchfork to loosen the soil around the bulbs and then gently pull them. Brush off dirt (do not wash or aggressively clean). For hardneck garlic: bundle the garlic, tie with twine and hang in a cool/dark/well ventilated place to cure. After the leaves and stems are completely dry (this will typically take at least two weeks) trim off the stalks and roots and eat or continue storing. For softneck garlic: immediately braid upon harvesting and hang in a cool/dark/well ventilated place to cure and store.

Important tip: Remember to save the healthiest and largest garlic bulbs and plant these the following year. Over time you will create your own strain of garlic uniquely suited to your garden.

Types of garlic:

Softneck: These varieties have a soft neck (stalk) and are easy to braid upon harvesting. They tend to produce smaller cloves and are what is typically sold in grocery stores. Soft neck varieties tend to be better keepers than hard neck varieties, and are well suited to mild climates.

Hardneck: These varieties have a hard stalk, and in the early summer the tops of the garlic stalk form garlic scapes, an edible and yummy treat. Hard neck garlic does very well in colder climates. The bulbs are typically larger and more flavorful than soft-neck varieties.

Garlic image taken from: The Vegetable Garden Illustrations, Descriptions, and Culture of the Garden Vegetables of Cold and Temperate Climates by M.M. Vilmorin-Andrieux, Paris. English edition published under the direction of W. Robinson. Published by John Murray, Albemarle Street, London. 1905

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