Growing Garlic

It’s about that time of the year to get ready to plant garlic. If you’ve never considered growing your own garlic, you should. The first time I tasted home grown garlic I was totally blown away. It’s much more fresh than anything you can buy in the store and you can taste it. Plus, it’s fun to choose heirloom varieties of garlic, and never run out! 
People are usually surprised when I tell them I’m planting garlic in September or October (in CA you can plant it up until November). Apparently, you can plant it in the spring too, but you will end up much smaller bulbs. Planting in the fall is like giving the garlic a head start. It has to have enough time to grow some greens and establish itself before the first fall frost so that the bulbs can grow in the spring and early summer. 
Another question I often get asked about planting garlic is, “What do you plant? Garlic seeds?” The easiest way to grow garlic is to break apart a bulb of garlic and plant the individual cloves. Make sure you plant them with the root end down (pointy tip of clove is up), and plant them 2 inches deep, about 6 inches apart with 1-2 feet between rows. Then make sure to water evenly. This year, I will probably mulch the garlic to help the soil retain water. I’ll also amend the soil with compost and some worm casting before planting my garlic. 
If you’re wondering where to buy seed garlic, I get it from the Seed Savers Exchange (pretty much where I buy all my seeds). They’re almost out of garlic for the season so order now if you’re planning on growing garlic this year. (A quick Google search for “buying seed garlic” will give you some other sources that are still selling garlic if you missed SSE). 
Here is last year’s garlic in the spring.  The greens are looking good!

Getting bigger:

Garlic is ready to harvest in July. You’ll see the greens start to turn yellow. Two weeks before harvesting your garlic, stop watering it. It needs time for the skins to dry up. You don’t want to leave the garlic in the ground past when it’s ready to be harvested, though. That will just result in moldy garlic skins that wont keep.

Here is half of our garlic after I pulled it up:

Once you’ve pulled up your garlic, let it dry in the sun (or a dry, well ventilated area) for 2 weeks before storing. You can store soft neck garlic by braiding it together, or just break off the bulbs and keep them in a dark, dry place.

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