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Planting Less

November 24th, 2014

Generally I grow way too much garlic, which isn’t a big deal as I give a lot of it away. This fall I decided to plant only about 1/3 or 1/4 of what I normally plant. I didn’t buy any seed garlic since I used stock that I grew myself.
planting garlic
All my garlic was planted a few weeks ago, six varieties were planted. Yesterday I gave them a nice layer of duck house litter to protect them during the cold winter and fertilize them next summer. Here’s hoping for a much smaller amount of garlic to weed and harvest next year.

Are you cutting back on amounts of anything you plant?

A Sunny Afternoon

October 30th, 2013

Yesterday afternoon was a lovely time in the garden. The night before it was cold, down in the mid 20’s – BRRRR. The chicken water was frozen and I needed a hat and boots to stay warm during my morning chores. That afternoon it was very pleasant, around 50 degrees and sunny, the perfect day for planting garlic.
Planting Garlic 3
Planting Garlic 5
The Sweets though so too, she was out helping me plant garlic all afternoon. She rubbed on my legs, stole cloves of garlic to bat around and searched for moles and voles.
Planting Garlic 2
I soaked the garlic overnight in liquid kelp, drained it and let it sit overnight again. It was raining on Monday when I planned on planting it. When I started placing the closed in the ground I was amazed to see that they were all developing roots, exactly why soaking in kelp is a good idea. It gets them off to a strong start right away, these guys will have a strong set of roots to get them through winter.
Planting Garlic 4
Loads of garlic went in the ground. I planted 8 different varieties and ended up with three 55 foot long rows of garlic.
Planting Garlic 1
This year I also saved all the small cloves and planted them close together, next spring/early summer I’ll harvest them as garlic scallions. I’m not sure where I heard about this, but I thought it was a great idea.

Are you planting garlic this year?

Garlic Planting Guide

October 23rd, 2013

Along with spring flowering bulbs, fall is the time to plant garlic for next summer’s harvest. If you didn’t check the blog last week, today is the last day to enter the Garlic Giveaway from Peaceful Valley Farm & Garden Supply (aka there’s still time to enter if you haven’t already, head on over to this post.

garlic growing guide
What kind of garlic should I plant?
As a general rule, northern gardeners in cold climates should grow hardneck varieties, southern gardeners in warmer climates should grow softneck varieties. That being said, experiment, try both types and different varieties of each to see what grows best in your particular area. It is reported that soft neck garlic stores longer than hardneck varieties, that might be enough of a benefit to try growing them in more northern climates. (softneck varieties to not have scapes and are also known as braiding garlic, hardneck varieties will produce scapes and have tough inner stalks that do not allow braiding, they produce scapes in early summer which can be harvested and eaten)

garlic and onion harvest

Where should I get my seed garlic?
I would recommend not using garlic purchased at the grocery store, as some or all of it may be treated to inhibit sprouting. Most likely, it will not the right variety for your climate/region. It’s also grown for it’s storage/shipping traits rather than for flavor. When possible, source your seed garlic from your area/region. The local farmers market is often the best place to find varieties that do well in your area. If you cannot find local seed garlic, locate a seller that is in your same longitude. That being said, don’t be afraid to try new and interesting cultivars to find one that works best with your climate and one that suites your personal taste.

Once you grow garlic in your garden, you can save seed garlic from your harvest as long as you haven’t had issues with disease. These will generally be best suited to your climate/garden as they acclimate to your specific conditions over a few years. Choose the best bulbs from your harvest for replanting.

garlic_harvest 3

When do I plant garlic?
As a general rule, you want to plant garlic three to five weeks before the ground freezes. In general, October is a good month in most US zones to plant garlic, unless you live in an area that expects a lot of heat during this month. Don’t plant your garlic too soon or it will sprout too much and the leaves may be damaged during the winter. If you plant too late, it won’t have enough time to develop sufficient roots to get it through the winter.

garlic_harvest 1

How far apart should I space my garlic?
There really is no hard and fast rule, numerous studies have shown that garlic planted closer together actually increases yield but it decreases clove size. I generally follow the guidelines from The Complete Book of Garlic and plant bulbs 4-5 inches apart in the rows with 10 inches between rows. My harvests have always been very good using this spacing method. However, if your soil is very lean and dry, you might want to space a little farther apart.


How do I plant garlic?
After trials in my garden, I recommend using the kelp bath before for planting garlic. Break apart the heads carefully keeping the paper sheath around each close intact. Plant only plump healthy looking bulbs (eat the ones that don’t look great). Soak cloves overnight in a mix of: 1 gallon of water + 1 heaping Tablespoon of baking soda + 1 Tablespoon of fish emulsion or liquid kelp. Results have shown this increases yield and decreases risk of disease & pests.

Prepare soil fairly deeply, garlic will sends roots down 18-24 inches. Lay out a grid and make dibble holes at the spacing you plan on using. Planting depth is determined by winter temperatures. Severe winter areas should be planted roughly 4 inches deep and mulched well. In warmer regions planting is generally 2 inches deep with mulch on top of that. Don’t worry too much about getting this exact, garlic is very forgiving. Try varying the depth a little and keep track of which depth produces best in your garden.

Garlic_in_spring 2

Should I fertilize?
The fertilization needs of garlic will depends on your soil and climate. In general, you should add compost and aged manure to your garlic bed in the fall when you prepare the soil for planting. In the spring, when the ground is still cold (generally late March/April) watering with fish or kelp emulsion every 2 weeks for a month or so will give bulbs a boost. Fertilizing too much might result in lots of leaves and smaller bulbs or bulbs that don’t store as long or large bulbs that don’t keep well. Do not fertilize close to harvest.

garlic combo Giveaway 1
Should I mulch my garlic?
Yes, I would definitely recommend adding a good layer of mulch to your garlic bed in the early winter. You probably will want to leave the mulch off of the bed until the ground is cold, adding mulch too early may prevent the freezing of the soil which will make your bulbs grow leaves prematurely. Also, do not remove the mulch too early in spring as a late spring freeze may then be detrimental to the bulbs. I find chopped fall leaves to be the perfect mulch for garlic.

Do you have any questions about planting garlic? Any great tips and tricks you’ve developed in your garden?

Want to know all more? Both of these books are phenomenal reads if you want to know all there is to know about garlic.

Planting Garlic

October 28th, 2010

It’s that time of the year to plant garlic. I’ve read that you should plant it around fall equinox, which I missed by about a month. I received my planting garlic the day before we left on vacation and just planted it on Sunday. I ordered 2 garlic samplers from Gourmet Garlic Gardens again this year. Each year I’ve grown garlic, I’ve tried a few different method for planting. I’m hoping this year I’ll finally be able to grow nice big heads of garlic. Mine usually end up being small, but they’re still quite tasty. I chose a free-draining area of the front garden and amended the soil heavily with compost.

I used the planting method I tried 2 years ago which worked better than what I did last year. Gourmet Garlic Gardens recommends soaking your separated garlic overnight in a mixture of baking soda and fish emulsion (1 gallon of water + 1 heaping Tablespoon of baking soda + 1 Tablespoon of fish emulsion). The following day, remove garlic from this mix and soak for a few minutes in rubbing alcohol. I used this method 2 years ago and every single clove of garlic I planted sprouted into a bulb. Last year I simply planted the garlic without soaking and about 20% of the cloves I planted did not sprout. I decided I’d go with the soaking this year.

When I plant garlic, I loosen the soil about 10 inches deep. Then I measure out my plant spacing and add a teaspoon of bone meal where I want to plant each bulb (usually around 6 inches apart). I use my planting trowel and plant each bulb 4 inches deep. Then water in well and mulch with straw or leaves mixed with grass clippings. That’s it, plain and simple, the garlic will grow in the spring. What varieties of garlic am I growing this year?

Belarus is a beautiful Purple Stripe garlic with a rich garlicky flavor and is delightfully mellow but with a little bite when raw. The outer bulb wrappers are white and thick and becoming vertically striped with increasingly more purple stripes the closer to the cloves one gets. The clove covers themselves are a deep reddish purple. If you like a lot of red, you’ll love these Purple Stripe garlics. Belarus can be a very prolific garlic in cold winter areas and grows well in states with moderate temps but probably not for extreme southern areas.

Purple Glazer is one of the few Glazed Purple Stripes available and they’re fabulous garlics that grow well in most climates, although iffy in the warmest winter areas. Their bulb wrappers show a different texture than either the main group of Purple Stripes or the distinctive Marbled group. Glazed Purple Stripes are the tall willowy maidens of the garden and are usually the tallest garlics. With good growing conditions the bulbs can get very large, 2 1/2 to 3 inches in diameter. The inner bulb wrappers of Purple Glazers can be almost solid purple with purple clove colors and they are very beautiful bulbs of very rich color and they are a lovely addition to the table centerpiece until you’re ready to eat them. If you want to flash some stark, raving color to get someone’s attention, these garlics will do the job. Purple Glazer has that same sweet warm richness of flavor common to Purple Stripe garlics; excellent for raw eating and fabulous for roasting because of the exceptional sweetness of Purple Stripe garlics. They’re more like Red Toch or Burgundy in flavor and have a very pleasant lingering aftertaste. These bulbs store every bit as long and firm as the standard Purple Stripes, around 7-8 months at room temp after harvest.

really lives up to its name when it comes to thriving in cold weather. A top-notch producer in cold climates, Siberian deserves consideration for all northern gardeners. The cloves are protected by an attractive light pink skin that becomes even redder when grown in high-iron soils. This clean, medium-to-strong flavored garlic will warm your soul on the coldest winter evening. Best of all, it is prized for having a very high allicin content, possibly the highest of any garlic. Allicin supports normal cholesterol levels, boosts the immune system, and enhances circulation. Harvests mid-late season – stores 7-9 months

German Extra Hardy is a large, beautiful and well-formed porcelain garlic. Its flavor is very strong and robust and sticks around for a long time. From a growers perspective, it is a tall dark green plant and is a very good survivor, usually grows healthy and appears to be somewhat resistant to many of the diseases that can affect garlic. It originally came from Germany but grows well in all but the most southerly states, where it is marginal. Being a Porcelain German White/ Extra Hardy stores a long time at cool room temp, around 10 months or longer.

Georgian Crystal is a large and beautiful porcelain garlic with delightfully robust flavor but not very much hotness. If you want a richly flavored, long storing Porcelain that won’t burn you out, this one’s for you. It grows well in most states even some years in warm winter areas, but will be marginal there in years with early hot summers. From a growers perspective, it is a large and healthy garlic to grow and appears to be relatively resistant to most of the diseases that can affect garlic. It originated in the Republic of Georgia, the former Soviet republic between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. An excellent garlic for raw eating and in pesto, salsa, etc. Harvests mid-summer – a rich yet mellow garlic that stores into spring at room temp.

is a large, beautiful and well-formed porcelain garlic similar to Northern White. Its flavor is very rich and musky, strong and robust and sticks around for a while. It’s very popular for a reason. From a growers perspective, it is a tall dark green plant and is a very good survivor, usually grows healthy and appears to be somewhat resistant to some of the diseases that can affect garlic. I’m not real sure just where Music originated, but it likes cold weather and can get quite large in good growing conditions. Grows well in most states even some years in Warm Winter Areas, but will be marginal there in years with early hot summers. Harvests mid-summer – stores into spring.

Amish Rocambole may be an heirloom garlic, who knows? (a garden plant whose lineage can be traced for a 100 years or more) It was grown in Wisconsin and comes to us from Gale Waege and Keene Organics. It is a generally a vigorous grower with large foliage that is dark green and results in a pretty good sized bulb. Being a Rocambole garlic, its flavor is very strong, hot and spicy and sticks around for a long time. From a growers perspective, it grows well in cold winter areas, but does poorly in warm winter areas, and usually grows healthy fairly uniform sized bulbs. It has thin bulb wrappers that have a lot of purple and brown in them. It usually has anywhere from 8 or 9 easy to peel cloves that are of good size, with no smaller inner cloves. The outer bulb wrappers are thin and flake off easily so it is not a very good storer, but no Rocambole is – through the fall and into winter. Great taste is their claim to fame, not long storage. For those up North who want to grow their own garlic it only takes a year or two to grow all you can eat. It harvests in early summer along with most of the other Rocamboles. Bulbs are usually over 2 1/2 inches in diameter and are of good size are grown primarily for their particularly rich flavor.

I’m excited about trying all these new varieties as I haven’t grown any of them before. I always try to grow lots of garlic as we eat a lot of it. We love garlic in all kinds of dishes, I usually use a few cloves a day. It helps keep us healthy all winter long. Here’s a great article about the health benefits of garlic.

Are you a garlic lover? Do you grow garlic in your garden?

Reading & Watching

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.