Planting Fall Garlic
Planting Fall Garlic
Today in my inbox I received my weekly news letter from Amy at Tenth Acre Farm Amy is the author of “The Suburban Micro-Farm Modern Solutions for Busy People”. What caught my eye was the article about now is the time to plant garlic. As a home cook I love using fresh ingredients from the garden like basil, parsley, cilantro, thyme, rosemary and oregano but I never planted garlic.
So I have a few questions:
- what variety of garlic should I plant
- when to plant
- how to plant
- what else do I need to know
What variety of garlic should I plant?
Over the years I have purchased seeds from “Southern Exposure Seed Exchange” they carry many variety of hardneck and softneck garlic. So what is the difference between hardneck and softneck? Hardneck is better suited for cool weather and is less pungent then softneck. Softneck can be braided and is more pungent. So I chose Chesnok Red Hardneck (Amy’s recommendation) and Italian Softneck along with Elephant Garlic! Why because I think the kids will have fun when we harvest it and I have no Idea what to expect.
When to Plant?
Based on information from “The Old Farmer’s Almanac” the best time to plant is in the fall after the “autumnal equinox”. What and when is the autumnal equinox you ask? Again from The Old Farmer’s Almanac” the autumnal equinox is the first day of fall which this year is September 22 that is when the sun passes over the equator so both hemispheres receive about the same amount of sun rays.
How to Plant?
First you need good soil deeply cultivated well drained add compost and manure. Break the cloves apart a few days before planting don’t remove the papery skin. Plant the cloves, with the peels on, root side down about 2 inches deep and about 6 inches apart. It is also recommended to cover the bed with straw about 5 inches deep; this will keep in moisture and over the winter will shrink down and keep the weeds out when spring arrives. You may see some stalks popping out before the winter freeze starts but roots are growing.
What else do I need to know?
In early spring you will start to see shoots, make sure to water this is the time the bulb is forming so keep watering the experts say about 1 inch per week. Around the summer solstice yes the first day of summer and the day with the most hours of day light. The bulbs will send up a seed stalk call a scape. You need to cut them off the bulb needs all the energy they can get to grow large bulbs. The scapes are delicious! Use in salads, actuality use in almost anything you cook. I have seen where they were used to flavor olive oil, vinegar and even make pesto from scapes. So the big question is when do I get to harvest and taste the fruit of my labor per “The Old Farmer’s Almanac” If the leaves are starting to turn brown and the scapes uncurl and stand up straight, it is time to harvest.
I will plant this week and report the progress in a later blog. Have you grown garlic, what was your experience, what variety did you grow?
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