At the Garlic Farm on the Isle of Wight. Via flickr.
Growing Garlic, How to Plant Garlic, Harvesting and Drying Garlic
Scientists have found that growing garlic contains fungicides and pest feeding deterrents to benefit plants in the vegetable garden. In one scientific study, one application of garlic spray deterred aphids from peas for up to thirty days.
Everyone is familiar with the tangy cloves of garlic, and if not allow me to introduce you! It is one of the best loved herbs used to season foods and is well known for its health benefits as well.
Growing garlic can reach heights up to two feet tall and spreads six to eight inches. The blossoms are very small, white to pinkish in color.
The herb plant requires full sun for the largest cloves but may tolerate partial shade.
The plants are hardy and stand up well under frost conditions.
Garlic prefers to grow in a bed of enriched, cultivated, well-drained soil with a pH level of 4.5 to 8.3.
The best propagation method of growing garlic is to save the largest cloves from the present season's crops.
Plant cloves in the spring up to six weeks before the last expected frost. However, in all but the coldest areas, garlic grows much better if planted in the fall.
How to Plant Garlic
Plant cloves in September for autumn planting.
Mulching the beds with straw helps avoid frequent freezing and thawing from heaving the garlic bulbs.
Fall planted garlic produces bigger cloves than garlic planted in the springtime.
If seed stalks appear in the spring, pick them off promptly.
# Plant cloves of regular garlic two inches deep.
# Elephant garlic should be planted at depths up to four inches.
# Space plants six inches apart.
# Elephant garlic should be spaced a foot apart.
# Growing garlic will reach maturity in 90 to 100 days after spring planting.
# Maturity is reached in 8 months after fall planting.
Caring for Garlic Plants
Do not allow the soil to dry out when growing garlic.
The plants require an inch of water every week provided by rain or watering.
Do not water garlic as harvest time nears or bulbs will be produced with thin wrappers and a shorter storage life expectancy.
Stop watering once the leaves begin turning yellow, about three weeks prior to harvesting.
In order to produce big cloves, growing garlic needs a rich soil.
Add generous amounts of compost to the vegetable garden bed in spring.
Make sure the soil has a proper balance of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. Avoid giving the plants excess nitrogen.
In addition to enriching the soil in the springtime, spray plants with liquid seaweed extract several times throughout the season.
When flower stalks appear in early summer, cut them back so that the plants devote their energy to developing bulbs.
If garlic cloves are small it could be a sign the soil is compacted.
Garlic needs a very loose soil in order to thrive.
Work in at least an inch or more of compost or other organic material before planting each season.
Harvesting and Drying Garlic at Home
Garlic is ready to harvest about three weeks after the leaves start to turn yellow.
Yellowing will proceed from the bottom up as the leaves dry, fall over, and turn brown. Ordinarily, you begin harvesting when approximately one third of the tops are brown and dry.
To harvest, pull the plants, clip off the roots to 3/8 inches long, brush off the soil, and let them cure in an airy, rain free place.
The bulbs are cured and ready to store when the leaves are crumbly, the root crown is hard, and the cloves can be cracked apart easily.
Garlic bulbs may be stored individually with the tops removed, or the dried tops may be braided together to make a garlic braid to hang in the kitchen or storage room.
Related: Gaga About Garlic