Friday, April 22, 2011

How to plant garlic.

The Garlic is popping up in nice little rows in the garden. I planted it in late fall and I'm finally seeing it peeking above the dirt after the long long winter! They're not as straight as I would like, but not too bad I suppose. This is our second year with Garlic (Allium sativum) and we're very excited to try so many new things! We planted both hard neck and soft neck varieties. Although, everything started to get kind of confusing after I started separating the cloves! They are all mixed together now. When they are growing side by side it's easy to tell which is which as they grow. The hard neck varieties will get scapes. I cut the scapes off after they start to curl and saute them in butter...yummy! If you don't cut the scapes off, the bulbs don't grow as big...and I love some big garlic bulbs!

How to grow garlic

Garlic is really easy to plant. Simply separate the cloves and plant each one about 3" deep and 6" apart in rows. Make sure the flat part is down, pointy end up. I like to use my dibbler to make the holes. (This is the one I use) Using a dibbler helps me to measure how deep the cloves are being planted so they're all in uniformly. I learned the hard way that I don't guess real accurately when it comes to planting depth. It's better for me to use some type of tool to measure how deep I'm planting. The dibbler works great, though if you don't want to buy a special tool you can just use a marker to make a line on a stick at the correct depth.

How to plant and grow Garlic

After the clove is in the hole, I cover with dirt and add several inches of mulch. I usually use leaves I chopped up by running them over with the lawnmower. (shhh, don't tell hubby!) I planted these in October although some people plant in early spring. If you plant in spring you don't need to mulch as thick. The mulch helps to keep the cloves insulated through the freeze-thaw cycle of winter. When spring hits simply rake up the mulch and you should see tiny garlic plants starting to grow. 

Garlic scapes, growing garlic

As I mentioned earlier hard neck varieties will develop scapes and soft neck varieties will not. This will happen when they leaves get to be about knee high. Cut the scapes off once they start to curl. They're so yummy and have a mild garlic flavor. While the soft neck varieties do not get scapes they do have those lovely soft leaves that are easy to weave into a garlic braid. Once the leaves start to droop down and die it's time to dig up the garlic. I like to dust off the dirt and hang them to dry in the shed. (see picture above) If you decide to braid them you'll want to do it right away since the leaves get brittle when they dry.

If you're planning on planting in fall, you'll want to do it around the end of October. It's said that if you wait till spring to plant, the bulbs don't grow as big but I've never tried it. I guess I'll have to try it next year and see!


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