Garlic is one of the most useful plants you will ever grow. It has been used for food and medicines for centuries by many different cultures. There are over a hundred compounds in garlic that give it it’s abilities as a healing herb.
Technically you could buy a garlic head at the grocers and separate and plant the clove of garlic. A better plan though is to go to your garden shop or catalogue and purchase garlic bulbs for growing and choose a variety that is best for your climate. It is also possible that the grocer’s garlic has been treated to prevent sprouting.
The soft-neck varieties which are used for braiding and the extra large elephant types are not as hardy as the smaller, milder hard-neck varieties. Hard-neck garlic forms a hard stalk, and tends to have a circle of large cloves with few if any smaller cloves in the center. They are also easier to peel. The seed stalks they grow in summer are delicious roasted in olive oil.
Fall is the best time for planting garlic, just ensure that it is late enough that that tops will not start growing. Plant your garlic cloves 6 to 8 inches apart in rows 1 foot apart. When planting a garlic clove be sure to plant your clove with the pointed end up. Mulch to protect them over the winter but be sure to remove the mulch in spring so your soil will warm up.
Throughout the spring and summer months keep your planting weed free and water regularly.
Garlic can be susceptible to Penicillium molds. If this is a concern you can dust the cloves with sulphur before planting. As well molds can be controlled by crop rotation, garlic soil should have at least 4 years between crops. So move it around the vegetable patch.
August is usually the month to harvest. You know when the time is right when there are 6 green leaves left and the others have yellowed and died back. These 6 leaves are connected to the bulbs’ protective coating. Dig up your heads and knock off the dirt. Cure your bulbs in a dry, warm place with good air circulation for good results. Save a few large hard garlic bulbs to plant again in the fall for next years crop.
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