Monday, November 5, 2012

How to Grow Garlic

Garlic is a staple at our house. Luckily for us, garlic is one of the most simple and rewarding garden plants we've ever grown. If you like garlic and have a few square feet of garden space, you should give it a shot.

Here's the most important bit of information you need to know: it must be planted in the fall. We wait until after the first freeze of the fall and then get it in the ground.

Last year we bought 1 lb of organically grown 'Music' seed garlic from Peaceful Valley. That worked out well for us and I'd definitely recommend finding organic seed garlic if you can. Many of the nurseries are sold out by now, however, but don't worry. You can even plant garlic straight from the supermarket, though there are no guarantees as to how it was produced or what variety it is. Read here to see how Kendra at New Life on a Homestead grew supermarket garlic.   

The seed garlic we saved from this year's crop

When we harvested the 2012 garlic crop, we selected our biggest, best-looking heads to save as seed for the 2013 crop. We stored them loosely in a mesh bag and hung it in our cool, dry basement storage room until planting time.

A square foot bed ready for planting

We prepared the garden box by stirring in a bit more compost.

Separated cloves

Then we separated the cloves from each head of garlic, discarding any that might have gone bad. 

Four cloves per square foot

We garden primarily by the square foot method. (Read more about that here.) You can plant four cloves of garlic per square foot. Plant each clove 2 inches deep with the pointy part facing up. Cover with soil.

Mulch with straw

The last step is to put the garlic down for a long winter's rest. Cover the bed with a nice layer of straw. Though you won't be able to see it, the garlic will be busy during the fall and winter months. It will put out roots and when spring comes, it will pop through the mulch.

Mid-March 2012

We had such a mild winter last year that the garlic was well out of the ground by mid-March.

You can see the garlic standing tall in the back. 'Music' grows to about 3' tall

By mid-May, the garlic was truly gigantic. All we did was keep it watered and fertilize occasionally with foliar applications of kelp. Pests ignored it completely. 


We harvested the garlic in early June and hung it up to dry it for several weeks. That's it!

See? Growing garlic is easy! If you've never grown garlic before, why don't you give it a try this fall? 

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