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Garden Goods: How to Grow Garlic This Fall

Garden Goods:

How To Grow Garlic

Why grow garlic? – Freshness, superior flavor, and quality!  You’ll find it much cheaper to grow your own garlic, and fortunately this vegetable is easy to grow, requires very little care, and is virtually untouched by insect pests. 

garlicphoto courtest of freefoto.com

Why plant garlic in the fall vs. spring? – Planting garlic in the fall gives the hardy bulb a head start producing healthier plants and larger cloves. 

Why not plant bulbs from the grocery store?  - When growing garlic it is vital that you plant quality “seed stock”.  The garlic found at grocery stores is often treated with chemical agents that minimize sprouting. 

When to plant – Your objective is to time the fall garlic planting so that the cloves have a few weeks to establish roots before freezing.  Yet you don’t want to plant the garlic sets so early that the cloves have time to send above ground leaf shoots.  A small amount of leaf growth is ok. 

How to plant – Plant in loosened soil amended with compost.  Do not separate the garlic cloves until you are ready to plant and leave the papery shell intact.  Place the bulbs six inches apart in rows 18 inches apart.  Then push the bulbs down into the soil 3 inches deep so that the point faces up.  After the ground freezes in early winter, mulch the entire garlic bed with 3-4” of straw or shredded leaves to insulate the bed over the winter. 

When to harvest - Harvesting garlic is a judgment call, but basically it’s ready to go when the lower leaves start to brown. About the only way to be sure is to actually dig up a few bulbs and slice them in half. If the cloves fill out the skins, it’s time. 

How to cure for storing - Brush off any soil clinging to the bulbs. Leave the stalks and roots on the bulbs, while they dry. Allow the bulbs to cure, or dry, for three to four weeks in either a well-ventilated room or a dry, shady spot outside. Sunlight can change the flavor of fresh garlic. Once the tops and roots have dried they can be cut off. You can also further clean the bulbs by removing the outer skins. Just be careful not to expose any of the cloves.

Bulk Garlic is now available at the Garden Center!

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