Garlic – How to Grow and Harvest

Garlic (Allium sativum). I love the history, lore and growing information of this alluring, time-tested herb. I especially fell in love when I saw a elephant galic being cut and readied for drying. I hope you find the information as exciting as I did and find an incredible desire to include Garlic in your garden.

As I researched information about garlic, I found many informative websites and books. But I was still unsure where to start and what to do. I wasn’t sure I understood the difference between mild and hot or soft-neck and hard-neck. So I found a local garden center purchased a few varieties including my favorite Elephant garden and started planning out my garden.

Planting

Buy bulbs for planting from a garlic grower, seed supplier or at the local farmer’s market, choosing well-formed large cloves; the bulb should be firm with no dark spots or mold on the papery skin.

Garlic is easy to grow outdoors in most climates. In cooler regions, plant it about six to eight weeks before the ground freezes. Garlic wants full sun and soil that is well drained and loamy to prevent rotting.
I have beds that are raised and I work them by hand rather than machinery. Water quickly drains from my raised bed, which reduces the chance of fungal disease in the bulbs. The roots grow down into the moist ground level. Water is retained at ground level under the raised bed because of the soil mulch above.

Just before planting, use caution to separate the bulbs into cloves by opening the bulb wrapper from above the cloves around the stem. Peel the wrapper away; then separate the cloves, being careful not to damage the root plate at the base. Remember this is a delicate part of the process because wherever the root plate is broken or damaged, roots cannot form. Plant the individual cloves about 1-1⁄2 to 2 inches deep and 6 to 8 inches apart with the pointed end up and the root end down.

If you are able to mulch right away, this will help you to help prevent soil erosion and keep the weeds down. To improve your growth and yield keep the garlic free of weeds. Wheat straw can be used in a thin layer to cover the garlic in the fall with more added in the spring to help keep them growing strong. Garlic needs nine months to grow to maturity.

Keep in mind that garlic should not be over fertilized or watered during the last month in the ground. keep a watch on the garden for the leaves to start yellowing and withering thats when you know harvest time is near. When around half of the stocks are still green and standing upright it is harvest time.

For Your Information

Hard-neck garlic forms a flower stalk, if you cut the stalk back to the leaves the energy of the plant will redirect back to the bulb helping it to grow bigger and stronger.

If garlic is not harvested in the first growing season and is left in the earth, each clove in the bulb will sprout in the fall. Due to the crowded condition, these sprouted cloves will produce small bulbs with many small cloves the following year. The sprouted cloves can be dug and eaten like green onions or separated and planted.

Harvesting

Choose a warm dry day in the fall to harvest garlic. Brush away the straw mulch so that you can dig the bulbs — this is easiest with a small fork like garden tool or just a fork from the house brush away excess dirt. Make sure not to pull the bulbs by the stems as the stems will break away from the bulb. Carefully lay the bulb abd stem aside as you continue to move through you gardlic garden.

In your greenhouse, shed or garage, hang the garlic in bunches or five to dry. You can also lay them flat if you have a large enough area. Make sure you have good air circulation as the drying process takes about two to four weeks depending on the weather. The outside skin of the garlics should be moisture-free before storing. The roots and tops can be cut off at this point of braided. Store in a cool dry dark place.

Garlic Uses

Garlic is a great pest deterent

You can make a spray from garlic and hot peppers and apply it to plants with infestations of aphids and white flies.

Resources

www.garlicfarm.com

www.filareefarm.com

www.gourmetgarlicgardens.com

www.johnnyseeds.com

www.seedsavers.org

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