Growing garlic in your own home garden, can be not only fun but easy. Garlic is related and is a part of the allium family, which includes shallots, leeks, and onions. Individual cloves are what you use for seeds, grown underground with leaves that shoot up into the air.
Where Garlic Is Found And What Are The Choices
Garlic is predominately used in the Mediterranean, but has gained popularity and has adapted it’s growth in colder climates, particularly in the North. Rewards can be gained by growing your own home-grown garlic crop and typically there are two varieties of garlic which are called, Softneck and Hardneck garden varieties.
Both varieties of garlic contain certain characteristics to tell them apart. Softneck garlic is generally the most common found and is known for it’s white papery skin and abundance in cloves surrounding several layers around the central core. The softneck is the most popular in grocery stores and is the easiest to grow. Two types of softneck garlic are artichoke and silverskin, which out of the two is most popular and most successful to grow.
Hardneck garlic commonly recognized for it’s bubils or flowers that grow out from the top, have fewer numbers of cloves but are larger than the softnecks. They are also recognized for having less in an outer wrapper, which causes a short shelf-life. The three types of hardneck garlic are purple strip, porcelain, and rocambole. Another name for porcelain garlic is elephant garlic.
What, Where, And How Do I Plant?
Choosing the right time to plant your garlic garden is important as well. They say that the traditional time is to plant garlic on the shortest day of the year. Some people may not take much stock in this idea so another alternative would be to plant it in the fall.
In acquiring your bulbs for seed, the best result is to get them from a nursery rather than the grocer. This will insure better growth, as garlic in supermarkets are usually treated with a sprouting inhibitor. A pound of cloves is equal to seven to ten pounds of cloves once matured, which is generally eight months. This is why fall planting gets better results.
Important things to remember in choosing a site to plant are to make sure that the bulbs will receive advantage of full sunlight, remove all weeds before planting, dig to a depth of 8 to 12 inches adding plenty of compost to provide moisture retention, fertility, and drainage, and depending on the region where you live, plant your bulbs about six weeks before the soil is expected to freeze.
When planting garlic bulbs, break them apart and plant only the largest bulbs, set the unpeeled bulbs with the pointy side up 2 inches deep and 5 inches apart, cover with compost and mulch to deter weeds and retain moisture, and add 6 to 12 inches of straw to give protection from the cold. Roots will still grow even though they are under the ground.
When Do I Harvest?
When spring arrives, make sure to add water, up to an inch a week. It is always important to remember to focus on bulb formation rather than seed production. This can be managed by cutting back flower stalks that develop. When the garlic bulb’s leaves begin to turn yellow and fall over, you may begin to dig them up. Make sure that you dry them in a well ventilated place.
Garlic will stay fresh up to 8 months as long as you cut the tops off and contain them in a cool and dry area.