Are You Ready for Garlic?

comments (12) August 5th, 2011

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Dwiggit Dwiggit, member
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Being Unprepared Stinks!

Are you ready to plant garlic? Maybe not. After all, it’s still summer, it’s hot and autumn seems a long way away. But garlic planting time will be here before you can say, “Now where am I going to plant garlic this time?” So, here are some things to think about now instead of (doing as I usually do) waiting until the last minute. Remember that old saying: “Haste makes waste?” Well, it is especially true when it comes to growing vegetables. Instead of running around looking for stuff (pots, germinating mix, seeds, bulbs, cuttings and, in this case, the cloves you will use as “seed”) you can be more relaxed and careful in your preparations.

Every gardener ought to grow garlic. The health benefits are legend – read about them here.  It is like growing a pharmacy in your back yard! The purpose of this article is to help you prepare to plant this wonderful vegetable.  I have several posts about garlic on my regular blog, West Texas Gardener.

For all the mysticism surrounding it, garlic is one of the most “un-fussy” vegetables you can grow. It just needs reasonably fertile soil, water when it gets dry and kept weed-free. It will reward you in spring with a bulb for every clove you plant. You can choose the healthiest cloves for planting the next growing season – you know — the circle of life and all that.
• If you haven’t saved any garlic from a previous harvest for “seed,” now is the time to order. All of the good seed catalogs will over several varieties.
• Some varieties will grow better in different regions, so do your research before spending your hard-earned money. One possible source here in West Texas is Gourmet Garlic Gardens.
• You can order small amounts of several different varieties and take note of which grows the best in your soil and climate. I grow one variety called “China Rose” and another whose name is unknown. I plant a lot of garlic so I’ll have some to share and plenty for personal use.
• Don’t plant garlic in the same place it grew the previous season. And, it seems to retard the growth of peas and beans when planted near them.
• When you have selected the area where you will plant your garlic, add some Texas Greensand and possibly some cottonseed meal or well-rotted manure and let it mellow until planting time. Now is the time to stockpile these amendments.
• A good time to plant is close to the autumnal equinox. This gives your garlic time to sprout and start growing before really cold weather sets in (more about this later). Cold weather, ice and snow are not the enemies of garlic; they just slow the growth a bit.

It is very nice to walk out in your vegetable garden in the winter months and see rows of garlic flourishing in the sun or poking up through the snow. With the arrival of warmer spring weather, they will begin to revive and thrive.

In a future post, when we are closer to planting time, we will discuss how deep to plant, how far apart, harvesting, etc. In the meantime, I will be happy to answer any questions about garlic or organic gardening in general.

For links to more on growing, curing, and cooking with garlic, read All About Garlic...


posted in: garlic, soil

Comments (12)

Ericthomas21 writes: Very tasty.
Posted: 12:26 am on October 25th
HarryBoltan writes: Congratulation Dwiggit.
Posted: 3:00 am on October 29th
PeterCane writes: Congratulations, Dwiggit! I love it and appreciate your efforts!

Posted: 2:49 am on October 29th
alanperez writes: Really good work
Posted: 10:20 am on July 9th
adamrussell writes: Congratulations ! Great work
Posted: 9:30 am on May 14th
rvermar writes: Here's an update from my 2012 crop: I saved some 'seeds' from scapes of the 2011 crop, as well as planted some cloves from last year's harvest. I planted them in the same small raised-bed plot as last year, but not in the same spot. i also planted Oregon sugar snap peas in the same spot as last year.

This spring & summer were much better than 2011 - sunny and not rainy/cool. The peas didn't do as well as last year but the garlic was super. The cloves produced elephant-size bulbs and the 'seeds' produced regular-to-small sized bulbs.

My only complaint about last year(2011) harvest is that the braided garlic hanging in the kitchen dried out and got hard and unusable after a few weeks. So this year I'm giving my crop away, making minced garlic for the fridge, or simply refrigerating the briefly-dried bulbs before refrigerating.

Next year I'll plant them in a different bed altogether, just in case they really do retard pea growth.
Posted: 1:18 pm on August 29th
Jeane09 writes: I've been growing garlic for three years; this spring they seemed ready early- the leaves had browned and the stems were falling over. I pulled some but the bulbs looked moldy and were soft. Also hadn't grown to full size. What could have caused this?
Posted: 10:20 pm on June 23rd
rvermar writes: Well I dug up one of the garlic plants to take a look and it was a nice big bulb! Definitely ready -- so I dug up the rest of the row. Some bulbs not as big as the first, but then again, those peas shaded the garlic patch most of the summer, what could I expect!?

I allowed 2 scapes to form more of those "seeds" so I'll use those to replant this fall, as well as a couple large cloves from this year's harvest, and see if there is any difference in final bulb size.

Now I'm drying the harvested bulbs and will braid them up today -- another first for me. What fun! Thanks for the comments and advice.
Posted: 9:24 am on August 17th
Dwiggit writes: Markinbed...great! Sounds like you are off to a great start. Are you planting the whole bulb or cloves from the bulb? You will do better planting the individual cloves.
Rvemar, I have never grown garlic from the seeds in the scapes...sounds very interesting. Here in Texas, I would pull them up and replant the cloves but only when they are ready. The snow peas next to the garlic proves the experts are not always right!
Ruth, thanks so much for the encouragement. I am glad you had a good experience with Gourmet Garlic Gardens. It seems they have all the information one would need...and very helpful.
Posted: 7:49 pm on August 16th
markinbed writes: I planted a solid garlic bulb last autumn it grew well, but died-back, in the winter. I had forgotten about until it popped back up earlier in the year again it died-back, and so i pulled it up. I now have seven bulbs to plant when autumn comes and am hoping next year to have 49 bulbs, with which i can maintain a regular harvest.
Posted: 3:31 pm on August 8th
rvermar writes: I started a row of garlic last fall (2010) from the seeds on the scapes, given to me by a friend. They sprouted and have grown nicely this cool, wet summer. I watched a garlic video that says it takes 2 years to harvest the bulbs.

What should I do? Let them die back and leave them in the ground? Pull them all up and replant some cloves? The video said not to pull/dig them up until 2/3 of the leaves turn yellow and wilt. I'm not there yet -- only one leaf on each plant is yellow right now.

BTW, I planted snow peas right next to the garlic and they did fantastic...
Posted: 12:26 pm on August 8th
Ruth writes: Dwiggit, welcome to the site. I hope you'll post frequently. It's hard for us here in New England even to imagine what it's like to garden in torrid Texas, and we have lots of site visitorw who will welcome advice from your part of the country. I can second your recommendation of Gourmet Garlic Gardens. The website is encyclopedic, and when I ordered seed garlic, Bob the garlicmeister sent me varieties for the North.
Posted: 8:41 am on August 8th
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