So I’m a dog person. I love dogs. All dogs. Except maybe the hairless ones. But every time I see a homeless dog my little heart aches and I call my husband and beg him to let me take another one home. He of course talks reason into my bleeding heart and tells me that we already have one, we don’t have room, ‘think of the dog hair!’ ect ect ect. There’s really no moment in my life where I couldn’t picture having a dog in my life.
Until they get into my garden, this time digging up my garlic.
At that exact moment, horrible thoughts flood into my brain: ‘CHARLIE, YOU BETTER RUN AND HIDE!’, ‘NO MORE! CHARLIE, PACK YOUR BAGS!’, ‘I’M TAKING YOU TO THE FARM, CHARLIE!’. The threats continue for a few more minutes, until I see his sad eyes and of course I go over and cuddle with him and tell him it’s okay.
Anyways, enough about that! We’re here to talk about GARLIC!
This year we grew a few varieties of garlic: Ukraine, Music, Siberian, and German Red.
Everyone has different opinions on when to start garlic. Some say a few weeks before the first frost, others say after the first frost, and some even say it doesn’t matter as long as they reach their full maturity, which is 9 months. I think it really depends on where you live and the climate. Here in Utah it’s a good idea to plant anywhere within the first week of frost when the soil is nice and cool. You can also plant after the last frost when the soil has started to thaw, but you will get bigger and better bulbs if planted in the fall. (Or so I’m told by most gardeners. I’m going to plant a second set this spring to see how it works in Utah).
Three things I love about growing my own garlic:
1) It’s so easy! And I can grow them for the fraction of the price they sell them for in the store.
2) SO much variety. You really can only buy 1 or 2 types of garlic in the store, but when you are planting your own you can grow dozens of different varieties! YAY!
3) Taste. Garlic is packed with more punch and flavor (especially when it’s heirloom!) when it’s grown in your own soil.
Try growing your own garlic this year! Even if you don’t have a plot, you could always build a box or buy one!
There are three types of garlic:
Softneck: Grows best where winters are mild (tolerant till Zone 5)
Hardneck: Extrememly cold tolerant! Great for really cold bitter winters.
Elephant: A hardy garlic that can withstand winters till Zone 5 if heavily mulched
I would definitely experiment with a few different types and varieties when you get ready to plant. Every one is different and you might be surprised with what grows best in your area and what ends up being your favorite!
This year I broke up my cloves and let them sit in some water over night. Some people recommend a mixture of liquid seaweed and baking soda to help prevent fungus, but I didn’t have any and we really don’t have problems with that here in Utah.
Start by loosening the soil a good 12 inches and working in some well rotted compost.
Place the cloves 4 inches deep and between 6-8 inches apart. Make sure you place the pointy top up and the flat part down. Cover with soil and place 3-5 inches of mulch (hay, straw, or leaves) over the top.
Viola! So easy, right?
As you can see, I still need to mulch mine…
I didn’t know this about garlic but it bruises easily! So when you are harvesting them do so very carefully. Loosen the soil with a gardening fork or shovel before pulling them out. Lay them out to dry in a nice warm spot away from harsh sun light and rain. After a week or two, brush off the soil and cut the roots to about half an inch long. Wait another week and cut off the stems of the hardneck varieties, and trimming and braiding the softneck varieties. Hang your garlic in nice mesh bags or if you have braided your garlic, hang in a nice cool dark place, like a garage or basement.
And that’s it! Lots of great garlic all year long. Also, make sure you don’t peel the papery outer wrappings, it keeps the garlic from rotting or sprouting.
So go on now! Go plant some garlic! 😉