Garlic is one of the oldest known foods. It has been used for culinary and medicinal purposes for thousands of years. Although grocery stores typically stock a single standard garlic, hundreds of garlic varieties with unique flavors and exotic origins are available to garlic gardeners.
Growing garlic is easy. Garlic planted in fall and overwintered is ready to harvest by mid to late summer.
Purchase seed garlic now to ensure best selection. Most producers take preorders in summer and ship for fall planting. Locally grown garlic seed is better adapted to regional climate conditions and pests, and typically produces a better bulb.
Garlic is categorized as hardneck or softneck.
Hardneck garlic has a strong center stem. It does well overwintering in cold climates. Hardneck garlic produces smaller bulbs than softneck. Cloves are easy to peel. Asiatic, Creole, Marbled Purple, Porcelain, Rocambole and Turban garlics belong to the hardneck group.
Softneck garlic has a soft stem that flops over when it is ready to harvest. Traditional folksy garlic braids are made with softneck varieties. Softnecks are abundant producers of big bulbs with many cloves. Artichoke and Silverskin garlics belong to the softneck group.
10 steps to overwinter garlic
- In fall, prepared your soil for planting. I apply compost heavily and make sure soil is well-drained and aerated.
- Start with well-developed, high-quality garlic bulbs. Separate cloves.
- Plant each clove pointed end up, 2-4 inches deep, 5-6 inches apart. Sow in rows 18 inches apart.
- Cover with soil.
- Water well for 3-4 days.
- Top with 6 inches of straw mulch.
- Allow garlic to overwinter.
- When snow melts in spring, add an additional 4-6 inches of straw mulch to suppress spring weeds.
- By early summer garlic will form buds. Break the steam to redirect that energy to bulb formation.
- In mid to late summer the tops of stalks will start to turn brown, signaling it’s time to harvest.
How to harvest garlic
- Dig cloves carefully to avoid scuffing bulbs.
- Remove loose dirt by brushing or wash away with a high pressure hose. Be careful not to damage garlic.
- Hang in a well ventilated area for 4 weeks to cure.
- Remove stems and store bulbs in airy, dry conditions until use.
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