This past summer’s harvest of garlic was a little disappointing. The picture to the left was one of my best braids. The total amount was adequate, enough for friends and relatives, but I had hoped for bigger bulbs… and a larger quantity to hopefully sell. Garlic is harvested near the beginning of July here, so we plant it in October of the year before. There are other vegetables that we plant in the fall, like Rutabagas and Collards, but that seed is small so you should really call it sowing instead of planting. Garlic, as you know, grows into a bulb that is made up of several cloves. The bigger the cloves, the better. Easier to peel, easier to cook with. I have grown Elephant garlic, which is huge! It’s a dream to peel, but I don’t like the taste as well. I don’t know what variety of Elephant garlic we grew, but the variety of regular garlic shown here is Silver White Silverskin, which I purchased from Red Wing Farm. I took a class that they offered at the Organic Growers Conference in Ashville, NC on growing garlic and ordered seed garlic from them after that.
What makes a good bulb? A well formed tight rounded bulb will keep better than one that is misshapen or loose. Also, one that is well covered with layers of paper thin skin. These layers help to preserve it so you can use your garlic all year. Of course, it needs to taste good, and cure well. My variety also braids well, which is just my preference. Harvesting and curing is a whole process unto itself, but today I wanted to tell you about planting garlic. What we do is save the best bulbs to plant. There can be a great difference in the size of the cloves of the small and the larger bulbs. It’s tempting to plant the small ones and eat the large ones, but the large ones got that way because they grew faster and better than the small ones. That is the trait we want to propagate! So, we prepared this raised bed with compost and worms. Then we put out a fence panel to space the garlic out evenly and straight. The fence panel comes off once all the cloves are in the ground, so it is just for spacing. You can see the fence in the picture to the right. It shows several cloves, but only one was planted in that square. One clove went in each square and each clove makes one plant. Don’t be tempted to plant two smaller cloves together, because that makes two plants that are too close and the bulbs will be misshapen and small. So that’s it. We mulched it with pine straw, watered it and now we wait. Rather easy, for sure, but finding the time to get it done was not.