Friday, October 5, 2012

It's Time to Plant Garlic

People all over the world have used garlic for centuries. Specialty garlic is food that can be enjoyed in a manner much like fine wine. Garlic thrives in rich, well drained, composted soil with a pH between 6-7. Adapted to many climates, garlic is easy to grow and is bothered by few pests. Separate the cloves of garlic just prior to planting. Plant the cloves 4-6 inches apart, covering them with 1-2 inches of soil. Elephant garlic is planted 6-8 inches apart and covered with 4-6 inches of soil. In the plains states garlic is best planted in October so it has time to establish a good root system before cold weather settles in. When spring growth begins, water to keep the soil slightly moist, and fertilize with a high nitrogen fertilizer applied every two weeks until bulbing begins. As harvest approaches, watering should be less frequent to avoid molding or staining. Cut off any flowering stems at the top leaf to redirect energy to the bulb.

HARVEST: Garlic should be harvested when 3-4 green leaves remain on the stem. Each green leaf represents one layer of covering over the bulb in the ground. If there are no green leaves when you harvest, you may find the cloves are exposed when you dig up the garlic.

Freshly dug garlic can be used straight from the garden, but if you let it dry slowly in the shade, it will last for several months.Click To Enlarge

Tie the plants in small bundles and dry in a cool, shaded, well-ventilated location. After about 2 weeks, you can hang the bundles in a cool location, out of any direct sunlight. You can also remove the stems and store the garlic heads in a mesh bag.

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