|Italian Purple Stripe|
|Hardneck garlic. Notice the single layer of large |
cloves around the central stalk.
The best part of all is choice. At the grocery store you get...garlic. When you grow your own, you can grow Music (high yield, easy to peel with a strong, lasting garlic flavor), Purple Glazer (great for baking), or Chinese Pink (early with a mellow flavor). In short...you can grow the type of garlic you most like to eat/cook with instead of just getting whatever the grocer sells you.
|Softneck garlic. Notice the multiple layers of cloves.|
|Mixture of cloves. I chose the largest cloves to plant.|
Plant garlic in fall for the biggest harvest, about 2-8 weeks before the first hard frost of the year. I've seen gardening sites/books vary greatly on this date, so I assume that as long as it's got some time to get established before the ground freezes, you're fine. I plant in mid-October in Zone 5b and had a fantastic harvest last year. You can also plant it in spring, about 4-6 weeks before the last frost, although spring-planted garlic doesn't get as big as fall-planted (but any garlic is better than none).
|There is a great variety of sizes in a single bulb. |
Plant the biggest ones.
Don't throw away the smaller or blemished cloves! These are perfectly edible and should be enjoyed. After I plant my larger cloves, I remove the papery covering from the smaller cloves, trimming away any bad spots. I put them in a jar in the refrigerator to use within the next couple of weeks. The inner covering can be added to stock (Avoid the outer layers to avoid getting dirt in your stock). Outer coverings can be composted. No waste!
|Soaking garlic in water and baking soda.|
|Plant garlic about 4 inches apart.|
|Garlic in autumn. The leaves die back when|
it freezes, but come right back in spring.
In the early days of spring, you'll see them start to grow again. Sometimes they'll even pop up through the snow-another beautiful sight! Keep the beds well weeded for the biggest bulbs possible. Water them every 3-5 days, unless it rains.
|Garlic scape harvest.|
|Garlic scapes on hardneck garlic.|
|Garlic bed in early summer.|
|Garlic in summer. The stalks are thickening up.|
|Garlic harvest. Not bad for the first time!|