Growing Garlic

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Garlic may be planted in the spring or fall. Either way, you harvest your garlic crop at the end of the summer. The differences are these: If you plant garlic in the spring, it doesn’t need to be planted as deeply as in the fall. If you plant garlic in the fall, you harvest bigger bulbs.

Planting: Choose a sunny spot with well-drained soil.  Break the cloves off the bulb. (The larger outer cloves produce larger bulbs.) Plant each clove in a wide row 4-5” apart, with the pointed end of the clove facing up. If planting two of these wide rows, leave 6-8” between the rows. In the spring, you can do what Crockett’s Victory Garden suggests – just plant the cloves by pushing them into the soil, leaving the pointed top barely covered. But in the fall, plant them so their tips are about 2” beneath the surface of the soil. This will protect them from being heaved out of the soil by winter frost. After the ground freezes, you can cover them with a few inches of mulch to give them further protection.  Also, if you think you might forget where you planted them when spring comes, put in some sort of marker.

Growing & Harvesting: In the spring and summer, keep the plants weed-free and well-watered. If flowers form on the garlic, break them off. The flowers and flower stalks are a gourmet treat and removing them promptly ensures a larger garlic bulb. When a third to a half of the leaves are yellowing and turning brown at the end of summer (usually late August), it is time to harvest. Pull up the plants gently and let them dry inside, out of direct sunlight, in an area with good air circulation. Never let freshly harvested garlic sit in the sun or it will cook. It will take 2-4 weeks for the garlic to cure, depending on how humid it is. Then, gently remove any soil from the papery skins and trim the roots and stem.

Storing: Keep garlic in a cool area with low humidity and good air circulation to prolong storage time.