October 15. That’s when a local grower plants garlic, so we did it today, too.
We’ve tried to grow garlic before, but it never really worked because we did not know anything about the process. However, when we attended a garlic festival this summer and came face to face with $3 garlic bulbs, we were shocked.
We gave up on the idea of buying local garlic and instead we bought a book, Growing Great Garlic. At the cost of a handful of bulbs, the book should pay for itself many times over.
Besides some great “aha!” ideas about mulch, soil preparation, and compost in general, Ron England’s Growing Great Garlic helped me decide
- what kinds of garlic to use (we chose Russian Red, German White, Music, and Regular),
- which bulbs to choose at the garden center (large, hard, unblemished, with unbroken wrappers)
- the importance of treating bulbs carefully when separating cloves to plant them,
- which cloves to reject (soft, molded, bruised, tiny)
- where to plant the garlic (in good garden soil, with adequate space around the bed and no perennial weeds nearby),
- how far to space the rows and the plants (3 rows 8 inches apart with plants 5-8 inches apart, depending on Miss 12’s mood and accuracy)
- how deep to plant the cloves for our cold winters (2-3 inches of soil above the cloves)
- whether or not to mulch (we plan to use a moderate layer of chopped straw once the weather cools enough; for timing we’ll take our cue from strawberry farmers nearby).
Next year, I’ll be studying Growing Great Garlic to determine
- when to cut off garlic scapes (the curly stems),
- when and how much to water,
- when to harvest,
- how to dry, and
- how to store our crop.
In the meantime, we planted $21 dollars of garlic today,
- 13 cloves of German White
- 23 cloves of Russian Red
- 22 cloves of Music
- 44 cloves of Regular (including 8 very small cloves)
which could give us up to $300 worth of local, organic garlic. It’s pretty exciting, planting in the fall when we haven’t even finished harvesting this year’s crop! And it will be even more exciting next year when we’re eating our own garlic.
Growing Great Garlic is available from the Filaree Farm website, which is full of garlic resources and links. If you want to grow garlic, you should get the book.
This is yet another book in the in the 2012 52 Books in 52 Weeks Challenge, and is also linked to Saturday Reviews, Encourage One Another Wednesday, Women Living Well Wednesdays, Works For Me Wednesday , Wisdom Wednesdays, Raising Homemakers, Small Footprint Friday, and Frugal Friday.
Disclosure: I bought this book and receive no compensation for this review or for mentioning Filaree Farm.