It is planting time for garlic growers
Posted: October 28, 2013
Garlic is virtually pest free. Actually, it is sometimes used to keep pests away from other crops. Select a location in full sun to plant your garlic, and work a layer of well-aged compost or manure into the soil before planting. Purchase seed bulbs from a garden catalog, a local garden store, or a local farm stand or farmers’ market. Purchasing locally grown garlic will ensure that you have a variety that does well in your area.
Select bulbs that are large and free of disease. Examine the bottom of each bulb closely for signs of disease or insect infestation. Separate the individual cloves from the bulb; use the small ones for cooking and plant the large ones. The cloves should be planted 1 to 1.5 inches deep, with the root end down and the pointed end up, spacing them about 5 inches apart in the row. If more than one row is planted, row spacing can be relatively close, about 12 to 15 inches apart, because garlic plants do not grow very tall. After planting, mulch the cloves with 2 to 3 inches of loose, clean straw.
The leaves will not emerge until early spring. When the leaves are about 6 inches tall, apply a small amount of additional fertilizer. As spring progresses, the garlic will eventually produce a center stem, called a scape, that will develop a flower. Remove this scape, so that plant growth will be focused on the developing bulb. The scapes can be used as green onions are, perhaps sautéed with asparagus or added to a stir fry.
Harvest your garlic in early July when about half of the lower leaves have browned or yellowed. A small shovel works well as the roots can be quite stubborn. Check for maturity by digging up one or two bulbs. A mature bulb will have separated into individual cloves that have not yet pulled away from the stem. An immature bulb will not yet have divided into individual cloves, like an onion. But in an over-mature bulb, the outer paper-like shell is broken down or gone, and the bulbs have pulled away from the stem. An over-mature bulb does not look inviting and will not keep well.