Garlic

Garlic bed ©Janet Allen
Garlic bed

Garlic is planted the year before so it comes up in the spring, ready to grow. After planting, which is traditionally done on or around Columbus Day, we cover the bed with straw or some other light mulch.

Garlic can also be planted in the spring although the harvested bulbs will tend not to be as large as those planted in the fall.

Young garlic plants ©Janet Allen
Young garlic plants

There's a high success rate. We don't recall a clove not developing into a new garlic plant.

We do have rich, well drained soil which one of the resources here says is a requirement for garlic.We have never had any pests bother the garlic and, in fact, one year planted single rows of garlic in each garden bed to ward pests away from the rest of the vegetables—along the lines of using garlic to keep vampires away. We don't have any evidence that it worked (for the pests) and find it more efficient to plant the garlic in one large bed. It is also easier to plan the rest of the garden if the garlic is in one place.

Garlic scapes ©Janet Allen
Garlic scapes

For many years we cut off and discarded these curly-ques at the top of each garlic stalk. Cutting them off was the proper thing to do since it wouldn't be good for the garlic plant to go to seed, but throwing away the "scapes"? What a waste! Before someone told us about it, we didn't know you could eat them. Then it took a few years to figure out what to do with them besides just sautéing them. Then we found a recipe—Garlic Scape Bean Spread—which we love. We make as much as we can and freeze it for the winter.

Garlic plants ©Janet Allen
A bed of garlic

The garlic plants making food for the bulbs developing in the soil.

Harvesting garlic ©Janet Allen
Harvesting garlic

When they turn yellow-brown in the summer, it's time to harvest. The rule of thumb we use is to harvest nine months after the garlic was planted. That would be around July 10th. Any garlic planted in the spring would be harvested at about the same time or perhaps a few weeks later.

Garlic drying on the driveway ©Janet Allen
Garlic drying on the driveway

We initially place the harvested garlic on the driveway for a few hours so that it's easy to shake the dirt off their roots.

Tying up the garlic ©Janet Allen
Tying up the garlic

We tie the garlic heads into bunches.

Ready for winter storage ©Janet Allen
Ready for winter storage

Garlic is very productive and we used to grow enough to keep us going through the year. We now use a lot more garlic in cooking and haven't quite gotten production up to where it meets our needs.

Saved for next year ©Janet Allen
Saved for next year

Yes, we used to give into temptation and use the best heads for cooking, but now we save the best heads for replanting next year's crop.

Harvest record for garlic bulbs

YR LB Notes
13 15
12 10
11 6
10 7 From here on, we started just weighing the bulbs
09 18 Includes the weight of the stalks

Harvest record for garlic scapes

YR LB Notes
13 2 There's never enough scapes — a very limited resource!
12 2
11 1
10 2
09 2