Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Garlic Harvest

About a week and a half ago, we harvested our first ever crop of garlic. We had harvested garlic scapes about a month before that, but now we can enjoy some plump, juicy garlic cloves. (And I really do mean juicy- the garlic you buy in the store is nothing like this!)

I'm not sure why my family has never planted garlic before, but if you haven't tried it you should give it a whirl- it's easy. If you want to grow garlic, think about it soon, because garlic is planted in the fall before the ground freezes. Plan to mail order garlic now or buy some at your local garden center in September.

To prepare for fall planting, work some fallen leaves into the soil now, if you have some, or as soon as they fall from the trees this autumn. Trees pull different minerals and nutrients from the deep soil, so working them into your garden adds them to your topsoil. You don't need to have an open space now. Last year, we prepared a space for our garlic once the cabbages planted in that space were harvested. We covered the area with roughly an inch or two of leaves then pitchforked them into the soil.
How to plant garlic:
  1. Plan to plant a month or two before the ground freezes.
  2. Gently separate individual cloves from the head. Do not remove the papery outside as you would when cooking.
  3. Poke individual cloves into worked soil about 5-6 inches apart, 2 inches deep. The pointed end should be up.
  4. Mulch with a thick layer of leaves or straw. Water well and leave until next spring.
  5. Be creative with your planting location. You don't need a vegetable garden. Garlic doesn't need much space, so a small, sunny corner of a flower garden will even work. Our flower gardens have a variety of herbs, including thyme, sage, and oregano, mixed in with the flowers.
Planting garlic is the perfect job for little hands. You can line the garlic up on top of the soil and have your children poke them into the ground. They can also help mulch the area once the garlic is planted. Seeing the garlic sprouts next spring, before anything else is planted, will seem like magic.

Have you grown garlic? Do you have any tips to share?

Related Posts
Garlic Scapes
Three (or Four) Season Harvest

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