I did a web search on garlic and there were about 125,000,000 (that’s million!) entries. Obviously, this is a popular little bulb and now’s the time to get it planted for a good crop of your own next summer.
There are two types of garlic. Softneck and hardneck.
Soft necks are the type supermarkets usually carry. They are adapted to a wider range of climates and they keep longer in storage. They tend to mature faster, are usually more productive and have a milder flavor than the hard necks. The stems are easier to braid but the cloves are harder to peel.
Hard necks come in a wider variety, are more colorful and have a stronger flavor. The Hard necks produce a long, curly flower stalk called a scape that is harvested when young and tender for use in stir-fry type dishes.
Garlic requires good drainage and prefers full sun. To grow garlic, plant the cloves, which are the sections of the bulb. Each clove will produce a bulb. Fall is the ideal time to plant. Garlic can be planted in the spring, but the bulb will be smaller. The objective is to get good root growth started before the ground freezes. Plant the cloves with the flat, or root end, down and the tip set 2 inches beneath the soil. Plant the cloves 4-6 inches apart and top with a layer of mulch. You could see shoots in four to eight weeks depending on the weather. They stop growing in winter and start again in spring. Leave the mulch in place in the spring as it will conserve moisture and suppress weeds. Garlic competes poorly with weeds. When growth begins again, feed with a foliar spray every two to four weeks. Garlic requires about an inch of water each week during spring growth but also requires good drainage. Too much water may cause root or bulb rot. Stop watering when the leaves begin to yellow in early summer. Harvest when the leaves have yellowed and fallen over. Carefully dig the bulbs. Don’t pull or the stalks will break which may affect storage. Once harvested, get them out of the sun as soon as possible. Dry by braiding or tie the stems together in a bundle of 6-10 bulbs and hang in a cool, dry area with good air circulation. Once dry, the tops may be removed if desired and the bulbs stored in a mesh bag.
Fresh garlic contains vitamin C, potassium and phosphorus. Several major universities are studying garlic components for their impact on heart disease and cancer. In the garden, a garlic mixture can repel pests. Planting garlic around roses is said to repel aphids and a spray of garlic will help eliminate black spot and powdery mildew as it also has fungicidal properties.
Garlic is definitely something you should have in your garden and keep on hand. If you haven’t tried growing garlic before, give it a try.