Saturday, October 24, 2009

Tomorrow is garlic planting day

This is my planting stock for the year. In the back are two large Early Reds (medium pungency, and always the biggest bulbs for me). Up front are the Ajo Rojo (a hotter creole garlic with beautiful red-streaked wrappers), and Inchelium (my favorite all-around excellent flavor garlic). I have tried a few other varieties of gourmet garlic as well as elephant garlic (which isn't a true garlic, but a member of the leek family), but these three have yielded the best flavor, and more importantly for me, bulbs of a reasonable size to save! Had to double check the planting requirements, and just as I remembered,
  • Find a spot in full sun. If you have clay soil like I do, dig compost in.
  • Separate cloves carefully (keep wrappers on).
  • Plant 3 inches deep with tip pointing up.
  • Plant each clove 6 inches apart.
  • Mulch with straw or leaves.
  • Weed through the spring and summer.

Come late June of next year, I'll know the garlic is ready to carefully dig up when the outer few leaves start to die back. If I'm lucky, I'll also be able to harvest some scapes (the funny flower stalk looking thing that shoots up near harvest time). Late June, I will dig up each bulb with a garden fork, brush off the dirt being careful not to bruise or cut the garlic, then stagger them and hang to dry. Some people braid their garlic to dry (or for display).

If you're remotely interested by this post and have not tried planting garlic, there's no real excuse not to! Garlic does not take up a lot of room, and you can plant right into your flower beds if you don't keep a vegetable garden. If you do have a vegetable garden and haven't grown garlic, just know this: garlic is ready around the same time your basil, tomatoes, and herbs are. Imagine the possibilities. The taste of the garlic bought in stores (usually elephant garlic) does not even compare to true garlic you can easily grow yourself. The varieties I grow are probably a bit hotter than store bought garlic bite for bite, but definitely much more flavorful. I got my garlic as a gift a few years ago from a forum buddy, and I know there are lots of online sources for garlic. I'm not quite sure where to buy gourmet garlic planting stock around me, perhaps the farmer's market? If anyone knows, please leave a comment so others have a lead. Thanks and happy garlic planting to anyone else who is planting this weekend!


  1. I inherited some kind of hard necked garlic from my in-laws when we moved into the house that used to be theirs. I didn't realize I was supposed to replant it in the fall until a few years ago. Since I have garlic at all phases of growth, I always have some growing. I do try to replant some in the fall, though.

    I enjoyed your post. Thanks for the reminder how deep and far apart to plant the garlic.

  2. I love the taste of home grown garlic, but I just use the garlic I get from the grocery store for planting. I wasn't aware that it was most likely elephant garlic. It certainly tastes different after it grows in the garden! And it behaves differently. I store my garlic harvest in a stoneware bowl in my kitchen without any problem, and it lasts all winter. If I try to store garlic from the grocery store, I'm lucky if it lasts a month!

  3. We plant garlics for the leaves only ... am considering to let garlic to go through the full cycle and see what happen... nice educational post! ~bangchik

  4. How interesting! Garlics are planted during cold weather? Now I know something :-) Happy planting Wendy!

  5. I've heard home-grown garlic wins hands down in the taste test, but have never tried growing them...thanks to you, maybe I will! Sounds easy-peasy enough!

    Great photo of that rascal raccoon, Wendy!

  6. I got my garlic planted last week Wendy. I only planted 50 cloves this year. I hope it is enough. When peoples now you grow garlic, they are always asking for "just a few" bulbs. I am happy to give them some, but then I always seem to run out of garlic in the early spring and have to resort to buying it myself.

  7. Hi Wendy, I've only tried garlic once and it couldn't handle the long hot summer down here. Go for it and good luck.

  8. I have never planted garlic before and very blurr here. Do you plant garlic from seeds or from the bulbs we use for cooking?

  9. Wendy,

    We planted some farmers market garlic two weeks ago. Today I found 8 green stalks poking out up to 3 inches tall already. The past few years we have only used farmers market garlic. Great post BTW.

  10. Autumn- the easiest way is to plant from bulbs. You just separate the cloves and plant. The next summer, just like magic, each clove turns into a whole new perfect bulb! I then save a couple for planting in the fall and eat the rest.

    Sylvana- that's true about store bought garlic, isn't it? When I planted the elephant garlic, that actually didn't store well enough to be planted a mere few months later either.

    Deborah - I don't have the good fortune of knowing many people who garden in real life!

    Bangchik- do try to save a couple bulbs to replant! My parents usually harvest the scapes to use in stirfrys.

  11. Yep, farmer's market is a good source, it's where I bought my stock that was planted last weekend. Good stuff sold to me by a 10 year old little boy. :o)
    Last year was my first garlic attempt - so fun and easy! I had no idea it'd be that easy to grow garlic. Hopefully next year is as successful, I planted about 65 cloves.

  12. I just learned something. Won't be planting any garlic this fall as I will be moving in 2010...but when I move out to the country, I will have to try this. Thanks for the info.

  13. We find so many varieties for sale at farmers' markets it gets confusing. So far, that red-streaked variety is my fave. Ha! After reading your post, I think I will stick some in the ground per your instructions.


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