Planting, Growing and Harvesting
October is the
prime time to plant here, but you can plant as late a December
and expect a reasonable harvest. Garlic bulbs should have
time to sprout and put down a good root system before soil
temperatures cool enough to halt growth. However, garlic needs
a cold chill to form bulbs with multiple cloves – no
cold chill and you get solid bulbs or “rounders”.
If you plant to plant in the spring (not advisable here) –
cold chill your garlic in the refrigerator (40F) for 40 days
to get normal bulb growth.
Soil needs to
be rich in organic matter and well drained. You can add some
slow release nitrogen fertilizer at planting time (soy bean
meal) and can fertilize in early spring for larger bulbs,
(fish emulsion or cotton seed meal) but do not fertilize after
May 1st or when bulbs begin to form – promotes excess
leaf growth at the expense of forming bulbs.
Garlic needs continuous soil moisture, but not
a soggy soil. The equivalent of 1 inch of rain per week is
recommended – except for two weeks prior to harvesting.
So, when the foliage begins to brown, stop watering.
when about half of the foliage is brown. Lift the bulbs out
carefully. Washing the bulbs is only necessary if you have
a heavy clay soil. Dry the bulbs in the shade overnight and
clean of excess dirt before curing. Cure garlic in a single
layers or woven into braids (soft necks only) for 10-14 days
in the shade with good circulation. The bulbs will lose about
20% of their weight when fully cured. If you leave garlic
in the ground too long, the cloves will separate in the bulbs
making them hard to clean and reducing storage time.
Garlic has been a cultivated crop for at least
5,000 years and is rich in history and folklore. Much of the
folklore and writings about garlic involve its use as a medicinal
plant. Only in recent times, has it been cultivated and marketed
as a vegetable as well as a culinary herb. At larger farmers
markets both garlic scapes and green garlic are sold as high
value vegetable crops, but locally you will need to grow your