Friday, July 13, 2012

Planting and Harvesting Garlic

Garlic cloves can be planted in the fall, (September - November) just like spring-flowering bulbs.  I usually start saving the best cloves from each head of garlic a month or two before planting. Choose the largest cloves for the garden and use the smaller ones for cooking.

Simply work garden soil lightly to loosen and mix in some compost or other soil amendment to ensure soil is healthy and crumbly. Plant the cloves about 2-3 inches deep and 6-8 inches apart. For garden bed prep advice, check out my post here.

Cover with soil and more compost to act as mulch. Water weekly, if it doesn't rain, until they begin to sprout, at which time, reduce watering to every 2 or 3 weeks or until the ground is frozen. You might want to add more compost/mulch before winter sets in if harsh weather is expected or if the soil needs additional amending.

In the spring, remove competing weeds and care for garlic as you would other garden plants.

 Stop any supplemental watering in June to let the bulbs begin drying and harvest in early to mid July.

Dig each bulb (or head) carefully and remove as much dirt as possible (do not rinse/wash with water). In fact, keep this as dry as possible throughout the entire process. Keep the shovel/spade straight as you dig to prevent piercing the garlic bulb.

Cut off the majority of the stem, trim roots to about 1/2 inch in length and remove dirty outer leaves (skin).

Put bulbs somewhere dry to cure for 1-2 weeks-- timing will depend on ambient moisture. Be sure to allow plenty of airflow to prevent molding and keep at very low humidity until dry and firm. Once cured, remove any remaining dirty leaves or excess stem/roots and store in a cool dry place. Perfect for dehydrating to make your own granulated garlic or add to other spice blends. 


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