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Delicious. Fresh. Flavorful. Rich. Pungent. Mellow. Choose the words that best describe the garlic you’ve selected. All are a notable step up from the grocery store options. And really, if you’re going to take the time to make something scrumptious from scratch, doesn’t your creation warrant fresh ingredients?
Garlic plants grow strongest in full sun. Scout out a site that drains well, where water doesn't puddle after a rain.
Loosen the soil in your garlic patch or row to 6” deep. Dig in a few shovels full of compost or well-rotted manure. We like to add some time released 10-10-10 fertilizer to provide plenty of nutrients for strong growth, but this is optional. Garlic produces the biggest and best heads in fairly rich soil with consistent moisture.
Garlic can be planted outdoors in the fall or spring. The garlic we offer is for fall planting; this timing allows the cloves to develop a good root network in the cool autumn soil and then take off strongly when spring arrives. For best root development, plant your garlic 4 to 6 weeks before the ground freezes hard, if that occurs, in your area. If your soil doesn’t freeze, allow for a bit of cooling from summer’s heat before planting; any time from October through December is fine for planting garlic in warm regions.
Plant in rows. Space the individual cloves 4-6” apart and leave a foot between rows.
Separate the cloves from the bulb’s bottom plate and push each down into the loose soil 1-2” with the pointed end facing up. Pat the soil to eliminate air pockets and water well to settle the soil around the bulb. If you live in an area with freezing winter temperatures, mulch your garlic with 3-4” of straw, chopped leaves or fine bark mulch. This helps limit soil freezing and thawing, which can cause frost heave. In warmer regions, a light mulch blanket helps hold moisture and reduce weeds. Green shoots may appear in the fall; that’s fine.
In the spring, when your garlic has sprouted and is about a foot tall, give the plants some nitrogen to support the top growth. Fertilizers in the 5-1-1 or 6-1-1 ranges are ideal. Make sure your plants get about 1” of water a week from rain, irrigation or a combination of the two. Garlic does best when it doesn’t dry out. About a month after the first fertilizer application, repeat with a second application. About 4-6 weeks later your garlic will have formed nice heads; you can pull back the soil with a finger and peek.
Hardneck garlic develops a tall flower stalk or scape. Snipping these off redirects the plants’ energies into bulb development, so that’s recommended when the scape has made 1 to 2 loops (they grow in fun curls.) The scapes can be eaten sauteed in butter, added to scrambled eggs and stir-fries, or used like green onion tops.
Garlic plants mature from late May to early August, depending on your growing region. Observe your garlic’s growth for clues. When the plants stop developing new foliage and the bottom leaves begin to brown, withhold any supplemental water. Your plants are maturing. Check bulb development by pulling back the soil and inspecting; if the bulbs are large and you can feel the bumps of individual cloves through the wrapper layers, it's time to harvest. (Waiting too long can result in wrappers that deteriorate, and bulbs that split and don’t store well.)
Loosen the soil around your garlic plants with a garden fork or shovel being careful not to cut the bulbs. Pull up each plant, gently shake off the soil and let the plants dry for two to three weeks on sheets of newspaper in a garage or other dark, well-ventilated spot.
Softneck garlics can be braided for decorative storage. For hardneck garlics, cut the stems 1-2” from the bulbs and store in a cool, dry, dark place.
Light: Full sun
Soil: Average soil
Depth: Cover with 1-2” of soil
Water: Average moisture
Uses: Best in garden soil, not containers
Tip: Plant in fall for great root development
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