Seven easy tips for growing garlic

Seven easy tips for growing garlic

growing garlic at halcycon acres

Photo courtesy of foter.com

Garlic can be a wonderful addition to just about any meal. While the norm is to dry it before consuming, I like it best fresh out of the ground. So do my clients. It has a slightly earthy taste and is milder than bulbs that are aged, but it’s wonderful raw (here a little bit does go a long way as you’re not reducing flavor – and health benefits – by cooking). Try it very thinly sliced as a condiment on pasta, salads, soups or anything else you want to enhance with a burst of flavor.

Traditionally you plant garlic in the fall for next year’s crop (usually at the end of October in the Northeast United States, where Halcyon Acres® is located). If you didn’t get it in last year, don’t worry. Elephant garlic can be planted in the spring for same-year harvest.

If you’re looking for some ideas on cooking with garlic, Chef William offers tips on his blog.

Seven ideas to help you enjoy better garlic crops

  1. Plant regular garlic in late fall, before the ground freezes but after temperatures have cooled.
  2. One clove produces one plant (I haven’t found working with seeds to be very effective). These can be planted about an inch or two deep, depending on the size.
  3. Garlic doesn’t need a lot of room so you can plant rows closer together than you would most other crops. I put it in with perennial plants because I leave it in the ground to harvest as needed (very unorthodox approach) so like it somewhere that’s not going to be replanted. But, if you’re culling garlic in the traditional manner, you can plan on putting another crop in that space usually about three months after the growing season starts. So, the way you map your rows may depend on what will go there next.
  4. As garlic starts to mature, a round, curved shoot comes out of the center of the leave shoots. These are very tasty, by the way, and when you can find them, sell for a fortune in the supermarket. Pull this out when you see it as this is how the plant goes to seed. Your cloves will be much bigger if you remove this.
  5. You’ll know your garlic is ready when some of the shoots start to yellow (although this can also be a sign of distress – if conditions are dry, water). Of course, I can’t help checking plants weeks before they’re ready. You can still eat these too, the bulbs just won’t be as big.
  6. Store garlic in a cool, dry place. Old panty hose are great for hanging garlic to dry.
  7. Enjoy the taste and satisfaction of home grown garlic for months to come. Stored right, this stuff lasts a long time.

Garlic is one of these plants that’s so easy to grow, it’s shocking more people don’t include it in their home gardens. The taste of what you harvest is so much better than what you can buy. If you liked this post, please use the share buttons to the right of this page to tell your friends.

nlevin

Nanette Levin learned the produce practices she uses mostly the hard way over 20 years of experimentation. Hopefully you'll consider this site one of the many good resources that have cropped up to help you avoid mistakes as a new gardener or a more experienced one shifting to chemical-free solutions. There's a lot of free information (concerning plants and horses), but we also offer consultative support for those seeking customized attention.

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16 Responses to Seven easy tips for growing garlic
  1. Chef William
    January 10, 2013 | 5:22 pm

    Great tips, I told my wife to save me a couple of pair of her old panty hose for next years crop. Removing that shoot is most important, but I have never eaten it. I will next time. Thanks for a great article.
    Chef William recently posted..Garlic – The Stinking RoseMy Profile

  2. nlevin
    January 10, 2013 | 6:54 pm

    The shoot is wonderful, Chef William! Think of using it like you might with chives when looking for a garlic flavor (it’s great with potatoes, as an example). We had a supermarket around here that used to pay growers a huge premium for them. They don’t stock them anymore. Guess not enough people knew how tasty they were :-).

  3. Cher
    January 10, 2013 | 7:04 pm

    Great article again Nanette, and I oh so love garlic, when I lived in Greece I would just go and pick from outside, it grows in the mountain rock, haven’t found any here in France yet so have to get some growing in the spring 🙂

    Cher 🙂
    Cher recently posted..Juicing – Your QuestionsMy Profile

  4. nlevin
    January 10, 2013 | 9:05 pm

    We get some wild chives growing around here, but not garlic. Hope you are able to get a good crop going in the spring, Cher.

  5. Victoria
    January 10, 2013 | 11:07 pm

    Garlic is something I love and have used for many years. Drives my hubby nuts as I eat it raw daily. Like I mentioned to Chef William on his blog, it helps keep away the vampires and undesirable people..lol
    Victoria recently posted..Half BakedMy Profile

  6. nlevin
    January 11, 2013 | 12:57 am

    Yep, I guess anyone who isn’t a garlic fan needs to be warded off, eh, Victoria :-)?

  7. Minette Riordan
    January 11, 2013 | 1:10 am

    Nanette, I never thought about growing my own garlic but with the dried up or sprouting cloves that I seem to find in the grocery store these days, it seems like a good idea. I will add it to my herb garden this spring! Thanks for the motivation.
    Minette Riordan recently posted..2 sales lessons learned from a school bake saleMy Profile

  8. Alana (@RamblinGarden)
    January 11, 2013 | 1:42 am

    My husband and I (we live in upstate NY) haven’t had much luck in growing garlic – the plants do fine, but we get teeny bulbs. Still, we are lucky enough to sometimes get the garlic scapes- the “round, curved shoots” you mention in #4 – and these are highly prized in this area. Many growers will feature them at the farmers’ markets.
    Alana (@RamblinGarden) recently posted..The Fungus Between UsMy Profile

    • nlevin
      January 11, 2013 | 2:42 am

      That’s interesting, Alana, as I’m in Upstate New York too (Finger Lakes area). I’ll admit the bulbs aren’t the size of what you typically see in the supermarket, but they’re good-sized and a whole lot tastier. Maybe it’s your soil?

  9. nlevin
    January 11, 2013 | 2:22 am

    In years past, I’ve actually bought the bargain bags of garlic at BJs. They’re a lot cheaper than the ‘seed cloves’ sold at stores catering to gardeners. I’m focused more on organic now, so need to be more discriminating about how/where I find my starters, but if you’re just looking for fresh taste and some gardening fun, Minette, you can plant garlic hanging around your house and it will do fine. Just remember, if you’re planting in spring, you’ll need elephant garlic for a finished crop. Of course, in CA, you could probably plant garlic now and still be able to harvest it come summer of this year.

  10. Roy A. Ackerman, PhD, EA
    January 11, 2013 | 3:16 am

    I never thought about planting a clove of garlic. I’m goint to try it. Thanks for the idea.
    Roy A. Ackerman, PhD, EA recently posted..Confused by the Tax Changes?My Profile

    • nlevin
      January 11, 2013 | 12:51 pm

      I think you’ll enjoy the results, Roy.

  11. Shelley Webb
    January 11, 2013 | 3:17 am

    I’m here from the UBC but Oh, I’m so glad to have found this article!

    I have some garlic in my pantry that is sending up the curved shoots. Because it is basically a bulb like a tulip, I was wondering if I could “force” grow it in water on rocks in the house.

    I do this each year with tulip, daffodils and crocus bulbs so that I can have early spring flowers in the house.

    What are your thoughts?

    ~ Shelley
    Shelley Webb recently posted..3 Quick Ways to Get Crazy Activity on PinterestMy Profile

    • nlevin
      January 11, 2013 | 12:50 pm

      I’m sure you could force it to flower. I don’t know if you would produce a large bulb to eat this way. It’s worth a shot trying it. Why not? I look forward to hearing how it goes.

  12. Debbie
    January 13, 2013 | 3:52 am

    Thank you for the information on garlic. I am starting over as last summer was so hot and only one garlic grew.
    Debbie recently posted..6 tips for winter skin.My Profile

    • nlevin
      January 13, 2013 | 2:14 pm

      You’re welcome, Debbie. Good luck with the new start.

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