Posts filed under ‘garlic’

Planting Garlic: Step-by-Step

music_garlic_introIt’s getting downright frigid here, and garlic planting time has snuck up on me. But this weekend, I planted Music, German White, Georgian Fire , and Bogatyr Garlic–123 cloves total–in my front yard garden. Above is a picture of some of the Music, on a fabulous Sara Smedley textile. Of all the vegetables I grow, garlic is one of my favorites. Plus it provides garlic greens and scapes for months before you actually harvest it.

When to Plant: The general rule is to plant garlic on the shortest day of the year, and then harvest on the longest day. Columbus Day is ideal for Zone 6.  Garlic is a long season crop, taking 6 to 8 months to mature, so it’s best to plant it in the fall so it has time to establish.

Planting garlic is so easy, and you don’t need a lot of room. Here’s how to plant it in 6 steps:

1. Choose a sunny spotpickasunnyspot

Garlic likes full sun, but will also grow in part shade. Turnover your soil and add some compost to get the ground ready for planting.

2. Get a Digger. This is the tool you use to plant bulbs. It makes it really easy for planting garlic cloves. If you don’t have one, you can use a small trowel instead. (But the digger is so much more fun).


3. Break apart your cloves. Each clove of garlic will magically grow into a full head. I know, amazing, right? breaking_apart_clovesJust break the garlic head up and get your cloves ready.

4. Make a bunch of holes in the ground. Since I don’t have a lot of space, I plant my garlic pretty close together. The standard is to plant it about 8 inches apart, and make the hole depth twice the size of the garlic cloves you are planting. I love planting garlic as a border for my garden, and it helps to deter pests (and prevent munching critters).


5. Place cloves in the ground. Make sure to put the pointy part up, since this is where the green shoot will come up.

putgarlicinthehole6. Then, cover up the hole with dirt, and you’re done. Before winter hits, apply a straw mulch to protect the garlic. Snow will fall, wind will blow, the ground will become frozen solid, but garlic toughs it out, and starts growing again in early spring, and will be ready for harvest around the fourth of July.

Getting garlic: Want to plant garlic but didn’t order in time?  Try going to your local farmers market and either buy a few heads or ask if they’ll sell you some planting stock. Look for larger cloves, and whatever you do, avoid that poor supermarket garlic (it’s been treated with all sorts of anti-sprouting stuff).


Here is the beautiful organic Georgian Fire Garlic I ordered from Peaceful Valley this year.

So, get planting, as long as it’s in before the ground freezes, you’re good to go!


October 19, 2009 at 3:31 am 3 comments

Harvesting Heirloom Garlic

Check it out----garlic harvest 2009

Check it out----garlic harvest 2009

Of all of the things to grow, garlic is easily my favorite, and probably the simplest thing out there. You just plant a clove in October and pick a head of it in July. And heirloom garlic is a million times better than what you get at the supermarket. Hardneck varieties like Music,  Siberian, and Rocambole are favored by chefs, and also are very easy to grow at home.

Over the past few years, I’ve been buying my garlic seed from Fleur de Lys farm outside of Kutztown, the cutest little farm you’ve ever seen (with heirloom, organic chickens that lay blue eggs!) and this year, it finally paid off.

Fleur-de-Lys Farm

Fleur-de-Lys Farm

Lori even shared a new garlic called Maxatawny, named after a township nearby. She told me a passerby dropped it off last summer to keep the seed going, and I’m happy to see that it worked!

Heirloom Maxatawny Garlic

Heirloom Maxatawny Garlic

How to pick garlic

When the garlic leaves start turning brown in July/August, it’s time to harvest. Stop watering about a week before you plan to harvest, to make it easier to pull. Actually, I say pull, but you really should shovel up the earth a bit, so you don’t break the garlic by the stem (I had a few casualties over the weekend.)

Next, separate your garlic and label it if you want to keep the varieties straight. Tie about 5 to 10 stems together, and then hang somewhere dry for about three or four weeks. This will allow the garlic to dry out, and then you can store it in a dark place for 6 to 10 months, depending on varieties. Softnecks store longer, hardnecks about 6 months. When ready to store, the garlic skin should be crinkly, like paper—simply remove the very outer skin (don’t remove too much, and don’t wash in water) and then cut at the stem and trim the roots if you want. Voilà! Garlic through next winter (if it lasts that long).

July 14, 2009 at 2:33 am Leave a comment

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