Every year I grow hundreds of garlic bulbs. I use it heavily in cooking, it helps deter pests in my fruit tree guilds, and it is unpalatable to deer and other wildlife too. We’re in garlic-planting season for next year’s harvest and here’s my tips! Be sure to listen to the new @homesteaducationpodcast with my cohost @wildoakfarms for lots of info!
Plant in full sun.
Don’t overwater to prevent rotting bulbs. Instead, mulch the area with straw to retain moisture.
Plant cloves in fall before the freeze. Also know what you’re planting. Grow soft neck varieties for storage and hard neck for larger cloves, and mainly consuming sooner than later. Elephant garlic is awesome and easy to peel. But it doesn’t last super long.
Buy quality seed. I like:
Territorial Seed Company
Seed Savers Exchange
Filaree Garlic Farm
Hudson Valley Seed Company
A small sprinkle of slow release fertilizer in each hole when planting really helps out cloves as they establish roots. For a more permaculture approach, use biodegradable materials to improve soil quality and replace needed nutrients (i.e. comfrey, compost, etc.).
In addition to full sun and water, fertilize every 2-3 weeks with liquid kelp if you use fertilizer.
Keep weed free and avoid walking in growing areas to avoid compacting the soil.
When scapes appear on hardneck varieties, cut them before they blossom. This keeps the plant’s energy going towards the bulb and not reproducing via flower pollen.
Many sources say to harvest when the foliage of the plant is 2/3 yellow-brown. I don’t as this opens up the possibility of rotting bulbs! I harvest after a week or two of cutting scapes.
After harvesting, shake off excess dirt. Braid and hang softneck varieties in small groups or bundle hardneck varieties and hang. Air flow is key!
Make sure the bulbs cure for about three weeks in a dry, cool location.
After 4-6 weeks, de-stem, remove roots with scissors and store in braids or porous baskets.
Pro Tip: Garlic is a great companion plant for broccoli, cauliflower and other brassicas. If you plant rows 12” apart, you can leave space to interplant these crops in the spring.
Angela is the farmer and content creator behind Axe & Root Homestead LLC. This historic six-acre permaculture farm is home to two Clydesdale horses, ten honeybee hives, five sheep, two guardian dogs, barn cats and a flock of 40 geese and ducks. The farm produces maple syrup, fruit from a small orchard and loads of garden produce for consumption, preservation and donation to the local food pantry.
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