Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Tis the Season.. For Planting Garlic!
I usually try to get my garlic in the ground in mid to late October, but I've been running late this year.. no worries though, as the warm weather has made a November planting ideal. In fact, if I did plant in October, the garlic may have started to grow with the unseasonal mild weather that we've been enjoying. This happens occasionally, with little bad effect, but I do prefer to have the garlic winter over unsprouted. I think it allows more energy to stay in the bulb and helps 'bulk' up the garlic heads the following spring and summer.
Because last weekend was so nice and because we LOVE our garlic, I decided to plant a little more. This past summer, I harvested about 200 heads of garlic. I've replanted about 50 so far from that crop, which amounts to about 250 to 300 future garlic plants. We grow purple hardneck garlic, which is the best type for our northern region. Warmer areas can grow softneck, or braiding garlic, but it doesn't do well for me in zone 5b.
When planting garlic, look for the biggest cloves, putting any small ones aside for cooking. Bigger cloves = bigger garlic bulbs. These ones in my hand are nice and plump - perfect for planting!
My biggest complaint about growing garlic is the complete lack of variety found locally. I have planted Korean Red and Music Box, but I'd love to be able to grow a dozen different types. There are several online Canadian companies that sell garlic, but I haven't taken advantage of this source - yet.. I have a feeling that next summer I'll be placing a garlic order so that I can expand our plantings.
If you've never grown garlic, I urge you to plant some this autumn - sooner, rather than later. Homegrown garlic is vastly different from the softneck garlic available in grocery stores (shipped in bulk from China). Our garlic is firm, fragrant, juicy (yes, I said juicy) and sublime.. it's lovely roasted and then squeezed onto a homemade slice of bread. Plus, hardneck garlic lasts for at least 6 months, allowing us to enjoy our own garlic for a good portion of the year. The only problem is that everyone else likes it too (and I like to share), so we never grow quite enough..
So, the question is.. do we really need a big lawn in the backyard.. or should we dig it up for an urban garlic farm?!? I think I'm on the side of garlic..