Garlic

I have a farmer/friend who says garlic is the all-American crop–plant it during the World Series and harvest it on the 4th of July.

What a Philistine.

We planted our garlic on Columbus Day, because that’s what you do.

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For people who have never gardened before, and who find the thought of it intimidating, I often recommend that they start by growing some garlic. It’s easy to grow and easy to take care of–the pests and wildlife that can make growing vegetables so challenging aren’t interested in garlic.

Garlic is ideally suited for raised beds and containers. We grow a lot of it, so we plant it in long rows. But for household use you don’t need much space.

To plant, just break the bulb into cloves and stick the clove into the ground, pointed end up, about 2 inches deep. Space the cloves 5-6ย inches apart, in rows 8-10ย inches apart (if you’re planting in rows). Alternatively you can plant them 2-3 inches apart and in the spring harvest every other plant as green/spring garlic (scallions).

You can plant the garlic you buy in a grocery store, but if you’re going to the trouble of planting your own you should probably make the extra effort to get a higher quality garlic. Buy some bulbs from a farmer at the market (each bulb has about 8 cloves on average) or get them from an online source. Good seed garlic may seem expensive but keep in mind that garlic is something you only have to buy once. We bought our seed garlic once years ago and since then we’ve been planting garlic we save from our harvest.

Once the garlic is planted, cover with straw. This will help protect the plants and suppress weeds.

Tucked away and ready for winter

Tucked away and ready for winter

Often (here at least) the plants will begin to emerge in the fall, then will go dormant during the winter. They’re tough plants so the winter doesn’t kill them. When the weather warms up they’ll start growing again.

We aim to harvest oursย about June 18.

It’s hard to beat freshly dug homegrown garlic.

And according to my friend at least, there’s still time to get it in the ground this year.

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34 comments on “Garlic

  1. shoreacres says:

    Thanks for the unintended but entirely enjoyable morning laugh. When I read “To plant, just break the bulb into cloves and stick the clove into the ground, pointed end up,” it reminded me of an old, old Texas Aggie joke.

    “How do you tell an Aggie to lay sod?”
    “Green side up.”

    Of course, the joke’s infinitely adaptable. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 3 people

    • gatheringplaceseasonfour says:

      which side of the house do trees grow (on)? the out side

      Like

    • shoreacres says:

      And here’s the other, more serious and wonderful side of the Aggie nation. I just heard Kevin interviewed on local radio. What a wonderful story.

      Like

    • Bill says:

      That advice probably isn’t as obvious as it might seem, especially if you’re planting a lot of it. It is important to be careful to distinguish the top (pointy end) from the bottom (unpointy end). I probably know lots of Aggie jokes, even though that wouldn’t be the way I learned them. At U.Va I came to possess an arsenal of Virginia Tech Hokie jokes, all intended to show what ignorant country bumpkins they were. I was hiding my own country bumpkinness in those days. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Like

  2. smcasson says:

    We had so much rain this spring, my garlic rotted. Ugh gross smell.

    Like

    • BeeHappee says:

      You guys had softneck or hardneck? Tons of rain here also, but the harnecks did pretty well, no big rot. I think they probably do better in moist climates than softnecks.

      Liked by 1 person

      • smcasson says:

        Ok garlic expert….
        Lol jk. I don’t know which it was. I need to learn a lot… Hit it again in a couple years! ๐Ÿ˜‰

        Like

      • BeeHappee says:

        ๐Ÿ™‚ Not expert, garlic maniac, I said. And anyway, those who stand between me and my garlic, do regret it.
        But seriously, where did you get the seed? In stores they sell soft neck garlic. Advantages: it stores easily, can be braided. Hardneck garlic will not store as well, but will have some delicious garlic scapes and stronger flavors. It all used to be hardneck until they messed with it and created the softnecks. ๐Ÿ™‚ That is about all I know from my first growing internship.

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      • smcasson says:

        It was from a farm supply store. So I guess softneck. I actually hadn’t gotten to read your other comment when I made mine… So how did the taste test go? Did you just bite into a clove? That’s hardcore…

        Liked by 1 person

      • BeeHappee says:

        We just sliced the cloves, ended up doing couple rounds, since you have to compare and keep comparing ๐Ÿ™‚ Tricky part, you need to to taste very similar sizes of each, since biting into a bigger piece may trick you to think that one is spicier than the other. Then swirl the garlic all around your mouth, bite into it, etc, you know, like the wine test. ๐Ÿ™‚
        After we were done with the whole pile, I realized that I just got immune for the flu for this season.

        Here is how we described Chesnok (which in Russian means just that – Garlic):
        “In our taste tests, we found Chesnok to have a satisfying buttery garlic flavor, with some pleasant, localized heat.”
        By sucking on raw garlic pieces I had treated strep throat successfully in the past. I started eating raw garlic in teenage years, and can swear by it doing it’s magic. ๐Ÿ™‚

        Like

    • Bill says:

      I know that sad feeling. One spring we lost almost all of our garlic that way, along with our onions. This year it rained over 10 inches a week or so before we harvested sweet potatoes. Most of them rotted in the ground, ruining almost the entire crop. We’ll have enough for us, but nothing now for market. We just roll with the punches.

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  3. I planted about 70 cloves last week and I’m thinking of doing more this week. Which will be way more than I need but it’s always nice to share . Besides it’s just a good feeling to be planting something instead of pulling up dead plants this time of year โ™ฅ

    Liked by 2 people

    • Bill says:

      We seem to always end up with more than we need, but you’re right that it does feel good to be planting something this time of year. We’re still eating garlic from 2014 and we had a very large crop this year, most of which we still have. We’re well set for garlic, which beats not having enough. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  4. nebraskadave says:

    Bill, I’ve never tried to grow garlic. In fact I’ve never used garlic (well, except for garlic powder) in cooking. I’ve always known that garlic is an anti viral plant in that its been proven that garlic juice will kill viruses. I just never pursued a way to incorporate garlic into my cooking. I suppose I better do some research and start using more garlic. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Have a great garlic growing day.

    Like

    • smcasson says:

      Butter bread, slice up cloves real thin, put em on the bread, and put it all in the oven and toast it. Wheeee dawwggie. But I like garlic ๐Ÿ™‚
      As long as you’re not planning to talk to anyone in person that day…

      Liked by 1 person

    • Bill says:

      Garlic has excellent medicinal properties and of course it’s an ingredient in many excellent foods. You might consider giving it a try. As I said, it’s easy to grow and protect. It’s one of my favorite things to grow.

      Like

  5. avwalters says:

    I grew my garlic in sunny California. Haven’t done it here yet, because I don’t know when to start in Michigan. I’m sure my planting date has passed, so I’ll have to set my sights for next season.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gatheringplaceseasonfour says:

      next season – for me – means Downton

      Liked by 1 person

    • Bill says:

      The key is to have it planted soon enough before a hard freeze that it will start to root. I’m not sure when that would be for you. The tradition here is to plant it on (or around) Columbus Day. My friend who uses the World Series as his marker is from North Carolina, which may explain why he starts his a little later than us. I’ve planted it in September before and it’s done fine. As far north as you are, it is probably too late.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. BeeHappee says:

    Ok, I am a garlic maniac (I mean MANIAC!) and that causes some serious issues with other family members. Oh well, people either love it or hate it.

    My CSA friend worked at a garlic seed farm in Canada, and they used to do garlic tastings for the seed catalog descriptions. She said garlic seed sells our pretty well.
    So for fun, we did one here also, once we cleaned the garlic. It was a 7 hardneck variety blind test, washed off by bread and honey in between, and you would be greatly surprised how different the flavors and the pungency was. I definitely had my favorites.

    Too funny about garlic being all American crop, as it is farthest from the truth…
    “Up until 1989, the majority of the garlic in the world resided in Europe and specifically originated from the Caucasus mountain range which divides modern day Russia and Georgia.
    When the scant few varieties did make it into the United States, they usually came via Polish, German, and Italian immigrants.

    The USDA knew that there was a treasure trove full of garlic varieties waiting for them in the Caucusus Mountains. They consistently asked the Soviets for permission to come get some. But, as it turns out, along with harboring the worlds most prized garlics, the Caucusus Mountains, were also home to a few of Russiaโ€™s missile bases and their spaceport. Not exactly a place that our good Soviet friends were keen on letting us โ€œcome get some garlic.โ€

    In 1989, as the Soviet Union disintegrated, the USDA was finally invited to collect the garlic varieties. So off our government agents went, along with an armed Soviet convoy to get the prized garlic. Only allowed to travel at night (to keep from seeing military secrets, or the lack thereof), they went from village to village along the Silk Road. In each village they purchased every variety they could find and subsequently named many of them based on the village they were purchased.

    Upon arriving to the US, armed to the teeth with their precious garlic, our USDA heroes worked a deal with a handful of growers to grow out these new varieties. The basic gist of the deal was, the growers would grow out a field and split the bounty with the USDA.”

    Apparently, John Swenson, Chicago retired lawyer and garlic aficionado was in the expedition, camping out by the rivers in Caucasus and collecting garlic. He had some stories to tell afterwards. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 4 people

    • smcasson says:

      Where do you FIND this stuff?! Wow!

      Like

    • Bill says:

      Fascinating info Bee. I didn’t know any of that. Most of the commercially available garlic in the U.S. these days comes from China, which I believe is the world’s largest producer.

      We can’t grow hardneck down here, so we don’t have as many options as you would there. I’d love to be able to grow some of those specialty garlics We grow the Silverwhite and Nootka Rose varieties. We’re pleased with our garlic, but I know it isn’t as good as the hardnecks, even though it’s much superior to the garlic sold in stores.

      What my friend means by his “All American” description is just that those events (the World Series and Independence Day) are ways to remember when to plant and harvest.

      Like

  7. Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

    Well, one thing about it, if it is tough enough to survive (and mulched well enough that the frost won’t heave it out of the ground) it’ll still grow and you can plant it earlier next year; )
    But, on a slightly different note; if I happened to still have some scapes from this summer that had managed to grow on, forgotten in their bag and which also happened to produce a BUNCH of tiny bulblets… Do you think, if I simply broadcast them in the garden, that they might actually manage to come along next Spring? I know, it’s a long shot, but better to have tried and failed… Right?; )

    Like

  8. RonC says:

    I live in Central MN. I plant my garlic around the middle of October and harvest around the first week of August. This year, I sprinkled a bunch of scapes in the garlic bed where I planted my garlic. I just had to try it as I haven’t planted the scapes before. I usually remove them before they develop, but wasn’t paying attention this year so they developed fully. Covered the whole works with the wood shavings and chicken poo from the broiler brooder box. I keep a garden journal and I always start my garden year in the fall when I plant the Garlic and then the next entry is when I start seedlings at the end of Winter. Planting garlic allows me to imagine that I can garden year around :o)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bill says:

      I like that. ๐Ÿ™‚ I start a new garden journal every January, but don’t have anything to put in it for a while.

      Interesting that you plant at the same time we do, but harvest much later.

      Like

  9. Driving down I-5 from Medford to Sacramento yesterday, we witnessed the annual fall migration of garlic, huge semis full to the brim. We could smell it long before we spotted the trucks. โ€“Curt

    Like

  10. Leigh says:

    I was out in the garden yesterday, happy to see my own garlic coming up. After I harvest is summer, I take whatever’s leftover from the previous year and use it to make garlic powder. Very handy to have around!

    Like

    • Bill says:

      We make garlic powder that way too. Good stuff. We’ve had a nice rain since I planted so ours may be starting to emerge too. I’m going to have to go look!

      Like

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