Garlic is a fall planted crop that is harvested in July. October is the time to plant your garlic for next year's harvest. (but don't worry you *can* plant garlic in the spring) A step by step tutorial on how to plant, grow, harvest and store one of my favourite crops - garlic.
Many, many, many, several, too many to count ... years ago, my father brought home some garlic. He got it from an old Italian man at work. Actually, I'm making up the old Italian man part, but it seems entirely probable. And THAT is when my garlic growing obsession began. I'm obsessed with many things, that's how I've learned to do so much and why I can't sleep at night because I'm always plotting, planning or cleaning up after my latest venture. Occasionally I'm getting rid of evidence.
Any idiot can grow garlic. Seriously. When's the last time you watched a television special on the "Remarkable Garlic Growing Person"? Never. Because you do not have to be remarkable in any way, shape or form to successfully grow garlic.
Same for bean sprouts. You can grow bean sprouts at home in 4 days. These are not difficult skills.
For growing garlic you just need some garlic and some dirt. Or "soil" for you haughty types. You also need fall weather to plant garlic (although even that isn't a deal breaker - more on that later). Ready? Let's plant some garlic.
The first thing you need to know is which type you should be planting: hardneck or softneck garlic?
What's the difference between Hardneck and Softneck garlic?
- Softneck garlic is best grown in warmer climates.
- Has no stalk that grows up from the centre and therefore doesn't produce a garlic scape.
- Softneck garlic heads are generally smaller than hardneck and have smaller cloves.
- The head of a softneck garlic can be made up of multiple rows of garlic cloves.
- Softneck garlic will store for 6-8 months if kept in optimal conditions.
- Hardneck garlic is best grown in cooler climates.
- It has a long hard stalk that grows up from the centre of the head, producing a scape in June and a flower head later in the season filled with little garlic bulbils which you can use as garlic seed.
- Hardneck garlic is larger than softneck and has bigger cloves.
- Cloves form the head in a single row.
- Hardneck garlic will store for 4-6 months if kept in optimal conditions.
So generally speaking, if you live in a climate where you get lots of very cold temperatures and snow in the winter, plant hardneck. If you live in a warmer climate with mild winters and hot summers, softneck garlic is for you.
How to Grow Garlic
Separate your garlic head into cloves. Just pull them apart. Pick out the biggest cloves for planting.
The flat end of the garlic is the root end.
The pointy end is the tip of the garlic. It needs to point up.
You want to plant the garlic "root" end down and pointy end up. 2-3 inches into the ground. The bigger the clove you plant, the bigger the resulting head of garlic will be.
If you sprinkle a little oregano on top of the garlic and squeeze a tomato over everything, in 9 months you'll have grown a delicious marinara sauce.
No you won't.
Plant the garlic cloves so they're around 4 inches apart and their tips are covered by two inches of dirt.
Cover them up and wait. Through the fall the clove will start to develop roots and maybe even a shoot depending on how warm your weather is.
By the spring with a little help from sun, water and these little guys to aerate the soil, you'll have garlic plants starting! A single clove, produces an entire head of garlic.
Harvesting takes place in July and is accompanied by the traditional garlic harvesting dance. That's followed by curing the garlic and properly storing it - which do not have official dances associated with them. Curing and storing is treated with reverence. Just kidding. I dance for those things too.
Can You Use Grocery Store Garlic for Planting?
What's The Best Variety of Garlic to Grow?
Can I Plant My Garlic in the Spring? Because I Forgot/Ran Out of Time/Couldn't Be Bothered To Plant It in the Fall.
How Much Should I Water It?
Water your garlic just like you would any other crop you're growing. The fall is usually a rainy time and once I plant it I don't water it at all. I just let nature run its course. What IS important though is to stop watering your garlic 2 weeks before you harvest. Around the time the lower leaves on the plant have turned brown. This helps speed up curing and the drying of the papers around the head.
When Can I Dig It Up?
How do you dig up garlic? Just rip it out?
Um, no. Don't harvest your garlic by trying to pull and manhandle it out of the ground. Dig it. Otherwise you may break the head apart.
What kind of dehydrator do you use?
I use an Excalibur dehydrator (it's pretty much what most dehydrating enthusiasts use) for all my dehydrating projects. You can take a look at the Excalibur dehydrator here (this one is white, but mine is black.)
Hands down my favourite garlic recipe is actually one that doesn't use any garlic at all. It uses the garlic scapes I harvest in June, which is yet ANOTHER reason to grow garlic. My garlic scape pesto is delicious on pasta or pizza and stores for a year in the freezer.
Now you have all the information you need on how to grow garlic so get out there and get your hands dirty. Or for the more refined among you - soily.
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