Do you love garlic? I can smell it now – the lovely scent of chopped up cloves frying, getting ready to grace a meal. Once I had someone ask me how to cook a dish. I can’t remember what it was at the moment. The first step was chopping onions and garlic and frying them together, and there he stopped me. “You know how to cook,” he said.
Garlic is not only easy to cook with and delicious to eat, it’s also very easy to grow. To grow your garlic, you’ll need two things: a supply of nice-looking garlic bulbs, and a place to plant them.
Supplies Required to Plant Garlic
To get your garlic bulbs, head to a local farmer. The bulbs you get at the grocery store may be treated, and you want cloves that will grow. If you choose hardneck garlic, you’ll get garlic scapes in the summer months. Garlic scapes are the curly and delicious stalks of the growing garlic plant. If you’re in a mild climate, you can also choose softneck garlic. This type of garlic is a little faster to grow and stores better. I tend to choose the hardneck variety because I love garlic scapes. Whatever you choose, look for bulbs that have characteristics that you like, such as large cloves. This is your “seed” for the next generation of garlic, so you want it to be high quality.
To get your land, find a sunny spot that’s open for business for the next year. Garlic might be easy to grow, but it takes a long time, and while you plant it in the fall, it will be growing in that single location for nearly a year until you harvest it. Garlic takes patience.
Preparing Your Garlic for Planting
Once you have your garlic, divide the bulbs up into cloves. Don’t remove all of the papery covering from each clove. This is protection for the garlic inside. Each clove can make a new bulb.
After you’ve divided up the bulbs, place the cloves in the ground. Put the flat end into the ground first, since this is where the roots will come from. Plant two inches below the soil surface. The further the garlic is spaced, the better, since it doesn’t like competition. Plant your cloves at least 4 inches apart.
Plant your garlic in the fall, at least 3 weeks before the ground freezes. This gives your garlic a chance to form a root system before the winter comes. It gives it a bit of a jump on the spring!
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Garlic Throughout the Year
In the spring, you will notice shoots coming out of the ground. Gradually these turn into stalks. If you’re growing hardneck garlic, a long, green, curly scape will come out of the stalk. Cut this once it’s turned around in a circle, steam it or fry it with butter. Scapes are a delicious late spring treat.
Harvest your garlic in the summer. When it gets close to harvest time, avoid watering your garlic, especially if you are growing it for storage. That way it will be nice and dry when you come to harvest it.
Harvest your garlic when the stalks are dying off. To harvest your garlic, move a trowel or your hands gently into the soil around the garlic, away from the stalk so that you don’t damage the bulbs. Move the bulbs out and let them dry on a towel in a cool, dark place. If you’d like to store them, braid the stalks together and hang a row of bulbs in a cool, dark, and low humidity location. Hanging your bulbs ensures that they get good air flow.
Garlic is simple to grow, easy to store, and requires very little maintenance. Enjoy your garlic throughout the year!