Garlic is one of those plants that I think everyone should be growing. It is extremely easy to grow a massive supply of garlic with just a limited amount of space. It doesn’t take very much effort and the reward is delicious, homegrown garlic to use in your kitchen. This is how to grow garlic.
How to grow garlic
First, it’s important to select the right kind of garlic. There are a few types. Elephant garlic basically looks like a giant garlic plant, though it isn’t true garlic. It’s actually a type of leek that has a garlic-like appearance and flavor. In my experience, elephant garlic is not as flavorful as other truer types of garlic. But if you’re a fan, give it a shot!
There are two other varieties of garlic: softneck garlic and hardneck garlic. Hardneck garlic grows a stiff, upward-facing stem that grows out of the center of the bulb. Hardneck garlic tends to have a sharper flavor than softneck garlic. Conversely, softneck garlic is most of the garlic you’ll find in the grocery store. It doesn’t produce that stiff, central stem that you see in hardneck varities and tends to have a milder flavor. Softneck garlic is best grown in areas with mild winters.
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Planting your garlic
Garlic is a little unusual. While most of your vegetables would be planted in the spring, garlic is best planted in fall. Plan to plant your garlic four weeks before the ground freezes. Loosen your garden soil eight inches deep. Break your garlic bulb into individual cloves. Do your best to leave the papery covering on each clove. Plant your cloves three to four inches deep with the pointed end facing up.
Once planted, water your garden and cover with a thick layer of straw, four to six inches thick. You may see some green shoots begin to come up in the fall. This is normal. The shoots may die off during winter but will come back with a vengeance in the spring.
Your garlic will continue to grow through the following spring and summer. Keep your garlic watered and your garden beds weeded.
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Harvesting your garlic
Harvesting your garlic is a little bit tricky. If you’ve planted your garlic in the fall, it should be ready to harvest sometime in July. You’ll want to look for yellowing foliage. If your garlic’s tops have begun to yellow and fall over, it’s time to harvest! Before you dig up your whole garlic bed, dig out one plant. The bulb should be plump and covered in a dry, papery substance. If the paper around the bulb is wet and falls apart easily, your garlic isn’t ready!
Once harvested, allow your garlic to dry for two weeks before consuming. The bulbs are best hang-dried, allowing for even drying on all sides.
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