Most of our Garlic is grown in China, free of the regulatory constraints of the USDA, it is treated with bleaches and chlorine to give it a whiter color and with chemicals and preservatives long since banned in the US and most Western countries because of their adverse side effects not only to the ecology but the human body as well. Which is why I choose to grow my own Garlic.
Garlic is not extremely difficult to grow, but does require some patience. After a long growing season garlic will produce a multitude of bulbs.
Like most bulbs, Garlic should be planted in the fall, it can also be planted in the early spring as soon as the ground can be worked, but fall is best. Planting in the fall leads to bigger and more flavorful bulbs when you harvest the following summer.
Garlic does best in full sun but is tolerant of partial shade. Well-drained loamy soil rich in organic matter is optimal. Raised beds are also a good idea, but not essential. A Soil pH of 5.5 to 7.5 is within acceptable parameters
Planting and Care
Garlic is grown by planting bulbs or “cloves”, each clove will produce a new bulb. Many seasoned gardeners advocate soaking the cloves in a jar of water containing liquid seaweed and baking soda for a several hours prior to planting.
Separate cloves from bulbs several days prior to planting, but keep the papery husk on individual cloves.
Cloves should be placed in a furrow with the pointed side up and the flat end down, the tips should be about 2 inches beneath the surface. Space the cloves 6 to 8 inches apart.
A healthy layer of mulch such as straw or dried grass clippings and leaves is advisable. Shoots should begin to appear in 4 to 8 weeks, depending on conditions and cultivar. Growth will cease during the winter months and resume again come spring. Leave the mulch in place well into the spring to conserves moisture and suppress weeds. Garlic is ill equipped to compete with weeds.
Garlic requires about an inch of water weekly during the spring , stop watering come early summer, which is generally when the leaves start to turn yellow. This will allow the bulbs to become firm.
About a month into summer the garlic will begin sprouting flowers that curl slightly as they mature eventually straightening out into elongated tendrils. Once they have reached this stage, the flower stalks, [scapes] should be removed in order to encourage larger, more efficient bulb growth. The scapes actually have a mild garlic taste and work well in many recipes that call for garlic.
Start foliar-feeding your garlic every two weeks as soon as the leaves start growing in early spring and continue for about 3 weeks [Foliar feeding is a technique of feeding plants by applying liquid fertilizer directly to leaves.
Garlic is able to absorb essential elements directly through the leaves]. A mixture of a teaspoon each of seaweed mix, and Fish emulsion diluted in a gallon of water works superbly. Garlic requires adequate nitrogen levels . Fertilize accordingly.
Garlic doesn’t have many pest problems in the garden , its actually a natural pest repellent. Diseases that plague garlic are generally limited to fungal, such as white Rot. Some pests that bother onions will also attack garlic but not as frequently.
Harvest and Storage
When more than half the leaves have turned yellow-brown, in mid summer, your garlic should be ready for harvest. Carefully dig around each bulb carefully so as not to break the stalk from the bulb, which has been known to cause it to rot. Once harvested, keep it out of the sun . Hang the bulbs up to cure for up to six weeks in a shaded, dry, and well ventilated area. You can also braid it.
Once the garlic is thoroughly dried, trim the roots, try not to knock off the outer skin. Cut the stalks to about 1.5 inches above the bulb. If you’re going to plant garlic again next year you may want to save the biggest and best-formed bulbs to replant.