Last weekend, my oldest daughter and I conducted a rookie gardening operation…planting garlic. She was my photographer for much of this post. 🙂
In early September, I ordered my garlic at Seed Savers Exchange. It was delivered at the beginning of October. I am not sure of availability from other companies but it appears that Seed Savers are sold out for the season. So…for planning for next year…think ahead! According to their Garlic Planting Guide, garlic should be planted between September 15 and November 30. The optimal planting time is right after the first light frost. I was a little late on that one…but hopefully it won’t matter in the end. It hasn’t gotten that cold yet.
I ordered Georgian Crystal, Siberian, German Extra Hardy and Erik’s German White varieties. If all goes as planned, I should end up with about fifty garlic bulbs next spring.
We dug trenches that were about 3-4″ deep and 6″ apart. I kept the garlic by the parsnips, which I am also attempting to overwinter.
We broke up the individual cloves…
We planted the cloves about 6-8″ apart “pointy end” up…
Cover the bulbs with about 2″ of soil…
I put markers on my rows so I remember what I planted…
The directions state to mulch with about 6″ of straw, hay, grass clippings, etc. We used leaves, since they are in abundance. We did more than that, but it will settle over time.
Other garlic planting tips from Seed Savers Exchange:
**The cloves may begin to sprout through the mulch in 4-8 weeks, depending on variety and the weather. Do not be concerned. The plants will survive.
**Garlic will begin to emerge in early spring. One or two foliar applications of fertilizer are a good idea before May 15. Do not fertilize after May 15, as it may harm your garlic.
**Garlic needs about 1″ of water per week during the growing season (my thoughts are that this means..after all the snow is gone 🙂 If I’m wrong, please let me know!) Stop watering after June 1, this allows for better bulb formation and ease of harvest.
**Keep your garlic weeded, especially early in the season.
**Scapes are the curly center steps that may form as garlic matures. Cut or break them off after they are 10″ long – they will inhibit bulb growth if allowed to remain. Garlic scapes can be eaten in soups and stir fries, roasted, pickled or turned into pesto.
**Harvest after leaf die back begins and there are still five green leaves remaining on the plant – sometime in June or early July depending upon the year and your climate. Do not wait too long, or the bulbs will begin to separate in the ground.
**Dig the garlic carefully, do not pull the stalk or it will separate from the bulb. Gently brush most of the dirt off – do not wash. Be careful not to bang the garlic bulbs against each other or a hard object or they will bruise. Remove from the sun immediately.
**Tie in a bundle of 6-10 and hang in a shaded, dry, well-ventilated shed or garage. Leave hanging for 4-6 weeks. After thoroughly drying, trim off the roots and cut the stalks off about 1 1/2″ above the bulb. Store in net bags, old onion bags work well. (I saved the nice green ones shown that came with my garlic bulbs for this purpose.) For optimum storage, hang in an area with 45-55% humidity and a temperature of 50-70 degrees. Do not refrigerate.
**At all stages handle your garlic carefully as IT IS ALIVE. 🙂 Bruise it and it will not store long.
**Hold back your nicest bulbs for replanting again in the fall.
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