“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Garlic is gold. This gold takes patience for sure.
The clove is tenderly placed in the cool earth and then carefully buried into a wintery grave.
The ground freezes with this little life waiting… sleeping…
Snow falls. Insulates. Freeze.
Soon will come the spring… my time of joy will come again. When I can step outside, closing my eyes to inhale the good clean smell of mud… grass… wind through the trees… earth smell. All you gardeners reading this are holding your breath… imagining and understanding fully what I’m saying… goose bumps…
You know because you love the same things I love.
So now that I’ve got you all excited to garden again… here’s the easy as one, two, three planting guide!
1. Using your nicest, largest bulbs, divide them into separate cloves.
2. Making a hole in your garden spot, about 4″ deep, take one clove.
3. Placing the flat, root side down place one clove into the hole; cover with dirt and tamp lightly; I cover with mulch, which happens to be grass clippings here.
4. Repeat this process, planting your cloves about 4 to 6 inches apart. I recommend you place a stake in the ground marking it as ‘Garlic and your date’ so you know where you planted. I would also jot it down in your garden journal, calendar or wherever you keep that kind of information. If you don’t keep that kind of information, I highly recommend you start!
…now walk away and dream of spring, because this is where the patience starts.
So, once spring arrives you’ll see green shoots like this……the shoots that look like onions all around the perimeter of the raised bed, those are your garlic! These are about a week old. They will look like a little ‘v’ coming out of the ground, just like an onion, but the leaf will be pointy and flat, not round.
(Photo credit to Reflections from the Artist’s Garden. To see more go to their Facebook page at this link
In July you’ll notice a round stem with a pointy, lighter green tail looking thing- (see above photo) growing up from the center of the flat leaves. It will grow and once it’s about a foot tall, it will start to curl and the head will begin to swell. This is what we refer to as the ‘garlic scape’. At this point snap or cut this off at the base where the scape is growing out of. It is wonderfully edible, so be sure to use it. You can snip it up and use it in anything you’d normally use garlic for. It is a bit more mild in flavor….
…If you don’t it will turn into a seed pod, that looks like this… this is the garlic ‘seed head’.
If you leave it go ‘to seed’ you will NOT get a large bulb… you’ll end up with a walnut size bulb that doesn’t amount to anything.
***You can leave a few of them to do this if you’d like to grow ‘green garlic’ which is similar to a scallion (green onion). Simply plant these into the ground all season long and you’ll have fresh green garlic.
But… most of us want nice, big bulbs for our cooking and to save more seeds. So be sure to snap off the garlic scape. Around the end of July to the middle of August, you’re garlic will be ready to harvest. You will know by the leaves. Once the bottom six to eight leaves are browned, the bulb is finished growing. If left in the ground it will ‘split’ and not be fit to store.
When you harvest your garlic be sure to carefully pull straight up, loosening the ground around slightly. You don’t want the neck to snap and have to dig for it. It will be slightly difficult to yank out because the roots are very secure.
After you’ve harvested all your garlic, cut the stems off leaving about 3 to 4 inches of the neck (like the one in the first photo of me holding a bulb). You can put all your garlic in a mesh onion bag or crate with holes for proper air circulation. You will need to let your garlic ‘cure’ so it will store properly.
In about four to six weeks your garlic will be properly cured. Sort through them keeping the largest and best shaped bulbs for your seed. I know you’ll be tempted to want to keep the big ones and plant the little ones… but with garlic, you get what you plant. In a few years of planting all nice big cloves, you’ll successfully get all large bulbs.
I recommend that you print this article off and tape it to your calendar for next spring as a reminder… but if you don’t, no worries, I’ll re-blog it for you in July!
Keep posted for this yummy recipe in my next post! Garlic-Thyme Infused Olive Oil…