Growing Garlic

Never thought it would be this easy

We loved eating garlic even before doctors and health gurus piled on claiming that it’s good for your health.  Our kitchen has never been without garlic.  I actually have reduced the amount of garlic I consume, especially the fresh ones, since I still have to verbally communicate with other people in close proximity.  But I have never thought of growing them until a couple of years ago.

Our neighbor gave us some fresh garlic from her garden, the Italian type…we were told.  She’s a first generation Italian in the US, so a lot of vegetables in her garden have to revolve around Italian cooking.  Italian food without garlic is not really Italian, is it?  I must admit her garlic was really tasty.

Still, I thought growing garlic would be a pain to do.  I decided to try growing it when I purchased some “scape”, the garlic flower,  from a farmer’s market.  I didn’t know that scape was edible, neither did my neighbor.  She had been picking them off and tossing them.  The scape tastes just like garlic but milder.   It’s great in stir-fried or steamed vegetables, but it’s not cheap and it’s a little bit rubbery when it’s not really fresh.   Now, both my neighbor and I treasure the scape.  Once I realized I didn’t have to wait for months to taste fresh home grown garlic, I set out to experiment.

My first year of growing garlic comprised of digging up the seedlings from my neighbor and replanting them in our garden.  I didn’t know I was supposed to grow them in autumn, not in spring, so what I had at the end of the season was small garlic bulbs.  Now I know better and have tried growing a variety of them.

Garlic in April
Scape. Great for stir fry or steamed with vegetables
Just pulled some of them up

How easy is it to grow garlic?  It’s easier than growing a lot of things:

  • Buy some garlic heads from a farmer’s market.  Pick the ones you like the taste of best and the healthiest looking ones too.  If you are not close to a farmer’s market, you can buy them from garden catalogs.  Don’t buy them from a supermarket since most are imported from China and are treated heavily with chemicals.
  • Separate individual cloves from the head.  Select the large and healthy ones for planting, keep small cloves for cooking.
  • Prepare the soil: need well drain soil and full sun.
  • Put the cloves you have selected in the soil around early to middle October, with the part that was attached to the head downward.
  • Mark the area otherwise you will forget they are there.  Germination takes a long time.

And wait for spring to come!   Once the soil starts to warm up, they will sprout, one garlic per clove.  Weed, feed and water regularly, if you like to have large garlic heads.  They can survive on their own, if you don’t have time.  Some of my self-sown ones-I let some scape set bulbs and let them grow wherever they dropped.  They did fine without being taken care of.

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