Wednesday, August 3, 2011

growing garlic

fresh picked garlic

curing garlic

this is my first year growing garlic and having just harvested the two varieties i planted last fall, i would definitely chalk this up to one of my garden successes for the season.  as shari wrote last week, it's so easy to get caught up in all the things going wrong in the garden (and there are always things going wrong) that it's easy to forget your successes.  each year, i try to make a list of my successes, and there are always more than i expected once i list them out.  garlic is definitely on that list this year.

i planted two varieties: german extra hardy and georgian fire, last fall (i think it was late october or early november) at my community garden and at home, respectively.  immediately after planting, i thought the cloves had been dug up by squirrels because there were holes in the soil around where i had planted them, so come springtime i was not expecting anything to happen.  but then, one by one, sprouts began popping up, and i ended up with seven of each variety.  i guess the squirrels took one sniff and turned around!

in late june/early july, scapes can (and should) be harvested from garlic plants and used in cooking wherever you would use garlic.  i threw a handful in some hummus, and ultimately chopped up the rest and stuck it in a jar in the freezer.  i'm looking forward to throwing them in stir fries and soups over the winter.  garlic bulbs should be harvested when 1/4 to 1/3 of the leaves turn brown.  loosen the soil around each plant and pull up the bulbs.  do not wash the garlic, gently brush the dirt off (if you have a mushroom brush, this works perfectly).

i was really looking forward to braiding my garlic, but apparently that only works with the soft-necked varieties and i conveniently planted two hard-neck varieties.  oh well! instead of braiding, i wrapped the plants in garden twine and have just hung them to cure, which will take a few weeks.  once cured, cut the roots and stems off and store in a cool, dark place.

i ordered my garlic from seed savers last summer for fall planting, but i think this year i'll purchase new varieties from a local farmer who grows heirloom garlic.  i plan to save a couple of the bulbs i grew this year for replanting in addition to the new varieties i add.

have you grown garlic in the past? any tips or ideas to add?


  1. I tried once on my rooftop garden in my former home in the big city. They dried up pretty fast.
    I am trying again right now. So far I have medium plants. I hope I succeed this time! Congratulations on yours.

  2. So amazing! You have inspired me to plant some garlic this fall. I helped plant some a few years ago in a community garden but was no longer a part of that garden when it was time to harvest, so I'm excited to be able to see it all the way through this go around.

  3. we just harvested our garlic, too. it was a pretty good garlic year.

  4. Tip: save your fattest bulbs or cloves for re-planting, that way the genetics for a larger bulb continue to increase the size of your bulbs over time. We were doing great with this over 5 years, learning this trick from a grower, seeing growth each year in the bulbs and cloves, and then last fall we missed the window for fall planting and then BAM! an early surprise snowfall, frozen earth and we had no garlic in! so we planted another 50 humbly in spring and are starting over to select out those larger bulbs. Gah! One of last year's mistakes and my note to self: when the time comes to plant, don't dilly dally!! :)