Let me start by saying that I love garlic.
I love it's flavor (both raw and cooked), I love it's medicine, and I love it in the garden.
I get excited when September arrives and I can plant our annual garlic crop. Why? I'll be completely honest with you. Garlic is one of the easiest crops to grow (in the Pacific NW) and it fills the empty garden spaces left by my summer veggies.
Here are a few (ok, several... I got carried away in all my pre-garlic-planting excitement) suggestions for growing enough garlic for your household.
If you're in the Pacific NW, September and October are the best months to plant garlic.
Decide how much garlic you will need for a year. 15 garlic plants per person* is a good place to start (note that one garlic clove will grow into one garlic plant.)
# people x # garlic plants = # garlic cloves to plant
Determine how much garden space you'll need (see sample math for 45 cloves, spaced 6" apart)
45 cloves x 6" spacing = 270" garden space
270" / 12" = 22.5 square feet of garden space
Purchase seed garlic or local garlic from a farmer's market. (If that's not possible, just buy good quality organic garlic from the grocery store.)
Prepare your soil.
Separate the garlic into individual cloves and spread the cloves 3-6" apart.
Plant the garlic cloves in holes about 3" deep, with the flat side of the garlic clove down and the pointy end up. Cover with soil.
Mulch your garden lightly with straw or your favorite organic mulch and water about once a week.
My favorite part comes next... after the rain comes again in the fall and winter, there is nothing more you need to do for your garlic plants. Simply sit back and watch them grow!
When the rain stops in early summer, resume watering once or twice a week.
Bonus! If you planted hardneck garlic, snip off the curved flowering shoots, called garlic scapes. Saute the scapes in a little olive oil, season with salt, and serve them as a side dish to your early summer meals.
Harvest your garlic when the tops start to die back around mid-July.
Trim off the roots and hang your garlic in small bundles or make a garlic braid.
Let the garlic cure for a couple weeks. If you hung your garlic in bundles, trim off the dried tops at this point.
Store your garlic in a cool, dark, and dry location like your cellar or basement.
* If you're a huge garlic fan, 15 plants per person may only get you through a few months. Last year, my good friend planted about 120 cloves for her family of three (that's 40 cloves per person). Adjust accordingly for your family's garlic needs.
Happy garlic planting!
I love to hear from you! What garlic varieties are your favorite? What garlic planting advice do you have?
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