Sunday, October 13, 2013

Time to Plant your Garlic

~ Russian hardneck garlic ~
 This is the perfect time of year to plant your garlic for next year's harvest.

This year I purchased some Russian hardneck porcelain garlic from Gabriola Island (on the east side of Vancouver Island). The cloves are nice & large - which is what you want; plant large cloves & you should grow large heads of garlic!

Pull the cloves apart (keep the small ones for cooking - you do want to know what your future harvest of garlic will taste like), don't peel them & I wouldn't plant any that are damaged or don't look plump - they might not develop properly.

~ trenched & bonemeal added ~
I dug trenches about 4 inches deep & 2-3 inches apart. Put about 1 tsp of bone meal under each clove & plant them pointy side up (just like your tulip bulbs!) Cover them up & if you know there won't be rainfall for a bit, give them a drink of water.

They should send up shoots in a few weeks & then go dormant for the rest of the winter. Next spring when the soil starts to warm up, they'll start to grow again - apply some more bone meal & a pinch of lime to the soil around the shoots & water regularly.

They will send out flower shoots called scapes, which you will want to cut off & eat. The flowers will take energy away from the development of large cloves & they taste amazing in stir fries. Garlic will be ready towards mid-July; the leaves will start to dry up & turn brown. Reduce the amount of water they receive about 2 weeks before you are ready to harvest. Dig them up by hand, hand to dry out in a dark, cool area for a few weeks. Brush the soil off, trim the roots & you can either braid the stalks together or cut them off a few inches above the top of the head.

I just remembered that I have some garlic downstairs that I grew last year & haven't eaten yet. I should take a look at it & see if there are large enough cloves to plant. Garlic will acclimatize to the conditions of your own garden soil & if you re-plant your own garlic, over the years it will develop its own unique flavours. I would like to try this! In one area grow 'new' garlic & in another continue re-planting what I've grown year after year.

Happy Thanksgiving to you & Happy Fall Gardening!

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