A little over two weeks ago I pulled the garlic out of the ground. That’s very early for here, but the leaves were turning brown and it was ready to go. I think the very mild winter probably had something to do with it. I left it on the back porch to cure, and yesterday morning I brought my coffee out to the porch and set to work trimming the stalks.
Last October I planted two kinds of garlic (German Extra Hardy and Music, I think) from bulbs I bought at the farmer’s market. It was my first time growing garlic and I really didn’t give a whole lot of thought to how much I should plant. After I harvested it I immediately regretted not planting twice as much. I think I started out with about 30 or so plants, and after pulling a few early for green garlic, and eating some fresh and giving a couple away, I’m down to 21 heads.
For the most part I’m pretty happy to eat whatever fruits and vegetables are in season at any given time, and I’m lucky to live in a place where there’s no shortage of locally grown produce. I don’t really miss zucchini or cucumbers in the winter, and I can get winter squash and kale and potatoes and onions at the farmers market straight through to spring. But I cook with garlic just about every day, and the local supply always seems to be depleted by late fall. There’s really nothing sadder than those pathetic heads of supermarket garlic in the winter, that are usually grown half way around the world and are already half rotten or sprouting by the time you buy them.
The other thing about garlic is that it couldn’t be easier to grow. Maybe I am naive and there are all sorts of garlic woes I have yet to encounter, but as far as I can tell there’s really not much to it. You plant cloves of garlic in the fall and mulch them well with straw. Then the next summer you have garlic. No squash bugs or flea beetles or late blight or blossom end rot to contend with. It kind of makes me want to grow nothing but garlic next year.
I probably won’t go that far, but I am going to be sure to plant enough to see me through the year. Today I ordered seed garlic from Filaree Farm, two pounds in a mix of hardneck and softneck varieties. Hardneck varieties are hardier and easier to peel, and many people say they are more flavorful. Softneck garlic keeps much longer, so if you want to have garlic to last all year, it’s good to have some of each. It’s hard to think about fall planting in July, but now is the time to do it if you want to order seed garlic. It sells out quick!
Garlic may be my favorite thing to grow. I have been growing it for five years and have never run into any problems, just as you said. I, too, am going to plant twice as much next fall. If you end up with too much, home grown garlic makes a great gift. Your bulbs are beautiful!
Thanks! Yes, I was thinking if I end up with more than I need, I know friends and family will be happy to receive garlic fro Christmas!
Beautiful garlic! Ours came in early as well and it’s very “fragrant.” I want to attempt preserving cloves in olive oil but need to research. Have you ever done that?
Thanks, Patti. I’ve read that there is a serious risk of botulism with garlic stored in oil. Since it’s a root crop, there’s a high chance of botulism spores in the garlic from the soil, and then the oil creates the perfect airless environment for the botulism to thrive. It might be ok if it’s kept refrigerated or frozen, but I would definitely do some research first!
Thanks for heads up. I’ll research. Last year we kept them whole and stored in basement. They lasted most of the winter.
My favorite crop! Low input, high returns, unbeatable flavor!
Next year, when your harvest is bigger, save the biggest to replant. In a few years, you’ll have a crop that is perfectly tuned to your soil and growing conditions. After 8 years of doing this, most all of mine are bigger than my fist :)
That’s fantastic! I’m going to devote a lot of space to garlic this fall so that hopefully next year I’ll have plenty to replant.
After two years of doing it, I can definitely see an improvement in size and flavor from last year.
I love garlic too… it adds magic to the most mundane dish and is a great companion plant for the garden! Great info about botulism and oil – I didn’t know that this may be a possibility.
I agree that it is good to know about botulism and oil. I’ve not stored garlic like this but my parents do and will no doubt be glad to know.
As for my garlic this year, I’ve dug up two heads so far – about to venture out into the garden and dig up the rest now as they look ready – and they were each just one clove, only much bigger than I put in the ground in the autumn. Perhaps this is because I used some cloves from last year’s crop? Anyway, I am glad to know about softneck and hardneck varieties. After the experience this year, coupled with the fact that my garlic is not very pungent, I will be looking out for a new variety for my next planting session.
Hmm, that’s strange that you’re not getting full heads. I wonder if maybe its just not quite ready yet?
It’s hard to know … it could equally just be because they are in a different part of the garden or because there has been so much rain.
Thank you for the info. about planting. I have never planted garlic either and this is the year for me! I just LOVE your photos – the colors are so beautiful. Happy Planting.
Thank you! I do love those pink and purple streaks. Another thing supermarket garlic is lacking!
One of the reasons I got my allotment was so I could grow garlic – so much tastier than anything I can get in the shops! And your harvest is looking great :)
Thanks, Claire. I don’t think I quite realized how much I’d enjoy having homegrown garlic until I saw the harvest.
Thanks for this! I’m looking forward to planting my first garlic this fall – hope it turns out half as nicely as yours did!
Good luck with your garlic! I’m sure you’ll be pleased!