I love garlic!
As a gardener, February and March are my — lets get planting times of the year. Seedlings go into small pots with organic planting soil. Here in the southwest I might start some lettuce, kale, sweet peas, cabbage, kohlrabi, and plant some onions with the first workable soil.
The Fall garden has taken me quite some time to catch up to. I think about taking the frost bitten plants and put them in the compost. However, two years ago, I planted garlic in the fall. I was afraid I was starting it a little late because I waited until the week of Thanksgiving to get in the ground. I had a wonderful harvest of fresh garlic the next year in the spring. Oh, it was fun and spicy.
I waited too long that year to order from a seed catalog so I went to a local “healthy foods” store and purchased garlic in the fresh vegetable section. There are two types of general garlic that I purchased; one called hardneck and the other softneck. Hardneck grows a “stem through the center of the garlic cluster. Some people cut it while it is green and cook with it. I have never done that however I recognize the hardneck when buying them.
To plant garlic, it is best to do before the soil becomes hard with the cold weather. Prepare the soil with lots of good compost. The more organic the soil, the more food for the growing garlic and the easier the garlic grows into it’s full size. Take the garlic bulb, which is really 10-15 “cloves” of garlic and just before planting, carefully break the cloves apart. Plant the rounded side down and the pointed side in a shallow hole about 2-4 inches apart. Cover the entire clove with soil. I like to water lightly and then mulch heavily.
I like to plant the garlic where tomatoes will grow that year. The garlic will be harvested before the tomatoes take over the area. In early spring, you will see the garlic start to appear. The green shoots will start to come up from the ground. Let them hang out and water lightly if you don’t get plenty of spring showers.
Watch the leaves. When they start to turn light brown, it’s time to harvest them. Gently, using a spade or a pitch fork, loosen the soil around the garlic bed. Gently pull the garlic out and leave to dry, not in the direct sun. If the leaves are still pliable enough you can braid the leaves to create a hanging garlic grouping. I like to hang them in my garage for easy reach when cooking.