Monday, October 3, 2022

How to choose garlic to grow

Freshly dug garlic
Monday, October 3, 2022

Garlic is rich in lore.  It has been reputed to repel vampires, clear the blood, cure baldness, aid digestion over the ages.  Garlic has been around for thousands of years.  It originated in Asia, was cultivated in Egypt and has been a Mediterranean staple for centuries.

Today’s studies have shown is garlic antibacterial, anti-fungal, antiviral. And, it tastes great!  Garlic is high in vitamin C, B6, calcium, manganese, selenium and more.  For more nutritional info, garlic nutritional value  

It is easy to grow and has little pest issues.  All you do is throw them in the ground in the fall in October or November in our Zone 7 garden and by early summer, they are ready to harvest.  Loosening the soil and adding compost prior to planting can boost the garlic bulb size.  I plant garlic straight into my mulched flower beds and have great luck.  Their flower in spring is quite striking as well.

So how do you choose the type to grow in your garden?  I say there are 3 types of garlic-hard neck, soft neck and Elephant garlic.  Elephant garlic is actually in the leek family but it tastes like garlic and I use it just like garlic in the kitchen.

For storing in the cellar, soft neck garlic has the longest shelf life.  The easiest to peel are the hard neck varieties because they have the largest cloves with the thickest skin making them the easiest to "peel".  Quick tip-”peeling” garlic   Hard neck is also the most cold hardy.  The ones that give you the most harvest for space in the garden is Elephant garlic.  I preserve my garlic by pickling it so I go for hard neck and Elephant garlic.  Have garlic any time you need it, just pickle some!  
Pickled garlic
There are different levels of hotness in garlic varieties.  Read the descriptions to decide which ones you would enjoy.  I also like to look at where they originated from and get ones that have a similar climate as mine.

Another great place to check for the types that will thrive in your garden is ask local farmers which ones they have found do well.  

I have tried lots of different varieties of garlic.  I now grow the ones I have saved from this year's harvest.  I'll also try ones that are advertised to produce really well.  Just have to always try new things!

If you want big, full cloves next summer, you have to plant in the fall.  The clove puts out its roots and keeps growing over the winter so when spring arrives, the bulb is ready to get to growing!
Garlic in early spring
Garlic will grow practically anywhere, but prefers well fertilized loose soil to get the biggest.  Be sure to save your biggest cloves from your summer harvest to replant next fall.  Even though garlic "seed" is pricey, you really only have to buy them once and then you can just replant year after year.

You can use cloves from the grocery store, but they may be from climates that will not thrive in your garden.  It doesn't hurt to try, though.  Be sure to buy organic.  Conventional is treated so they won't sprout in the store.

The clove puts out roots in the fall.  Depending on how warm the winter is, there can be green shoots showing through the cold months.  Garlic will be some of the first to start growing.  The stems resemble onion greens.  The garlic flower, or scape, has a cute little curl in it.  It grows on hard neck varieties.  They are great in salads.  There is debate among garlic growers if removing the scape will also increase the bulb size.  Either way, you can't lose by harvesting them.

Plant the cloves root side down, 1-2" deep and 4-6" apart.  Add compost and fertilizer when planting.  Don't be surprised to see green sprouts pop up in early winter.  This is normal.

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