Thursday, November 7, 2013

How to Plant Garlic for a Great Summer Harvest!

Garlic is perhaps the easiest item I've ever grown in my garden. It's also one of the tastiest additions and produces two harvests: garlic scapes in late spring and then pungent, flavorful garlic in the summer.  You don't need a lot of space to grow garlic (yay for those of us living in small spaces!)- in fact, you can grow garlic in containers if you don't have a garden bed or plot to use.  Here are more detailed instructions on how to grow it, including a few photos.

To get started, get thee some local garlic from a seed catalogue company or local nursery. Don't use garlic from the grocery store that has been shipped from a foreign country like China, it is old and less flavorful by the time it reaches us.  You want garlic that has a higher quality.  I have picked up garlic at Halifax Seed and ordered it from Veseys before, both Canadian companies.  I use a hard neck garlic variety.

Break the heads of garlic apart, separating bulbs. Be careful not to remove the paper from each bulb- they shouldn't be naked, they need their protective shell.  For organic gardening, I soak the bulbs in a seaweed solution. It's ground up seaweed that I purchased at a local feed store.  It too can likely be ordered online or picked up at a local nursery.  I mix 2 tbsp with water in a 1.5 litre mason jar and then drop the bulbs in.  I let them soak overnight before planting them- usually for about at least 12-16 hours in total.

To get your soil ready, make sure the ground isn't frozen (it likes to be planted when temperatures are cool, but not when the ground is frozen. For me in zone 6B, it's usually early November).  Give the soil a good turn so the soil is loose.  Then, plant each bulb with the pointy tip upwards, about 1.5-2" deep.  You can plant the cloves surprisingly close together and still get good results- I usually leave about 3-4" between each.

Garlic bulbs peeking before they got pushed down further into the ground

Once you've got them planted, it's important to make sure to cover up the holes so they're protected.  Then, add a layer of mulch on top to protect them further. I like using straw (also purchased at a local feed store) and put about 2" worth on top.  If you don't have access to straw, there are lots of alternatives- you could use a thick layer of chopped up leaves as an example.

That's it!

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