Hardneck garlic is the most winter-hardy type, so if you’re a garlic-growing beginner, you’ll most likely want to start with some variety of this type. Basically, the short garlic-growing story goes like this:
In October or November, break apart the bulbs and plant the cloves 4-6 inches apart in rows about a foot apart, 2-3 inches deep.
Watch for them in spring – they’ll be first out of the soil!
Keep them weeded so the bulbs have room to grow as large as they can. Be watching for scapes, the long curly seed heads.
When you see the scapes, cut them off and eat them. This will allow the bulbs to grow larger as well.
When the tops dry out, dig up the bulbs and put them somewhere hot and dry for two weeks. This curing will allow the bulbs to be stored for a longer period of time.
Enjoy your garlic! And don’t forget to save some of your very own homegrown garlic bulbs for planting the next batch!
I’ve put together a more detailed and informative pdf file with garlic growing instructions, if you’d like to take a look the link is below.
The weather has been so incredibly dry this year, that my garlic has almost cured itself already in the ground. I dug it up on Tuesday evening, in the dark, because the weather forecast was calling for more rain and I was afraid it might rot, being already cured and not really much alive. The photo was taken the next morning. See how dry it is? The only green stuff is the bindweed.
I’ll still leave it in the greenhouse to dry out more, to be sure it’s cured before storing it.
I have to say, I’m happy with how it turned out, even if it is being harvested a bit early. I thought it would stay in the ground until fall, but I think this crazy heat and lack of rain has sped up the process a bit. Some of the bulbs are a good size, and some are small.
I will definitely grow it again. I’d like to try a few varieties, too – see if I can distinguish flavours of garlic! There are many to choose from, if you look in the right places.
If you want to grow garlic, you should be thinking about it in the next few months. Garlic is planted in the fall – October or November – and stays dormant during the winter. In the spring it’s one of the first things to poke through the soil in the garden, and grows well during the summer. When the scapes start to form, they should be cut off in order to encourage a larger bulb growth. I actually left the scapes on a few bulbs, to see what would happen.
Looks like it formed a mix of bulbils and flower buds. The bulbils will be genetically identical to the garlic bulbs I planted, while the flowers provide opportunity for some genetic variation, should there be opportunity to cross with other garlic plants. We’ll see if this plant survives long enough to produce seed. But if it doesn’t, I’ll save the bulbils for sure.
If anyone wants seed garlic, the small bulbs are $1 and the larger ones are $1.50. Limited supply, though, because I want to eat some of these beauties too! Let me know! They were grown organically by me in my herb garden. They have a good strong flavour. White/cream flesh with a few purple streaks in the skin.
Carrot seedlings have sprouted in their boxes!
Sugar Ann Peas – a dwarf variety of sugar snap. (edible pod)
Tiny strawberry plant. We’ll see how these do. I’ve got two varieties on the go. One with bright pink flowers!
Romaine variety called “Freckles”. Appropriate, no?
Bush beans. I think they’re green.
The garlic is coming along nicely. And I love the green between my stepping stone path.
Morning Glory seedlings in the garden – such unique leaves! Not edible.
The Sage buds are spreading out but not open yet.
This surprised me: Horseradish flowers have the most beautiful fragrance!
Lavender. I pinched some seeds from the plant at my grandma’s house, and this is the only one that has survived.
Chives, mauled by children. I love it.
I’d love to see pics of your garden too! You can upload to the SKG facebook page, or leave a link in the comments if you blog or have a flickr account.
There are a few things peeking out of the soil already in my garden! I thought I’d give you a bit of a tour.
Above: parsley that grew last year is coming back again this year. Parsley is a biennial, which means it grows roots and leaves the first year, and will go to seed in the second year. I will still plant more this year, because when the plant produces seeds it has less resources to give to the leaves, so the harvest of yummy parsley leaves is way less. I want to collect seeds and also save a lot of leaves and dry them for winter, so I’ll need first year and second year parsley.
Can you see the wee garlic shoot poking out of the soil? Right in the centre of the photo. I planted roughly 30 cloves last fall, and there are about 5 that I can see coming out of the soil already on this first day of spring. I can’t wait for scapes, they’re so tasty in a stir-fry.
This is sorrel – french sorrel to be precise. It has a sour flavour, so it’s hard to eat too much of it at once, but it’s nice to add a little bit of unique flavour to a larger salad. It’s also used in soups, where the flavour blends with everything else and it’s not too overpowering at all. It sends out a tall flowering shoot in the summertime, which often gets so heavy it just falls over. I haven’t yet saved seeds from it. They’re so tiny, and by the time they’re dry enough they’ve fallen out of the pods! I think I’ll try again this year, though. I’ll have to keep an eye on it.
The walking onions that I planted last fall are also growing green leaves! For more information about these unusual veggies, see this older post.
Last but not least, you can see the oregano growing too, under the leaves. I still need to clean up the garden, but I’m going to wait a bit. The leaves and other detritus provides a bit of protection for the young plants, and the nights are still cold.
Thanks for joining the tour! I’d love to hear about what’s growing in your garden – leave a comment to share.
The garlic is planted! Above you can see it all laid out and ready for planting. I thought that might be more interesting than showing you the dirt afterwards. I counted – there are 33 cloves in the ground now. We’ll see how they do! This is my first year intentionally planting garlic, so wish me luck!
I also planted some ‘Walking Onions’, also known as Winter Onions or Egyptian Onions. They grow like normal onions until they sprout onion bulbs on top of their central stalk. If you let them go long enough, the little bulbs on the top of the stalk will also send out a stalk with bulbs on it, and so on…. hence the name ‘Walking Onions’.
These are bulbs I saved from my own Walking Onions. I was originally given a few bulbs by a friend, and they have multiplied really well. They are in the ground now too – I planted them when I planted the garlic, because that’s what you’re supposed to do with them. That’s where the ‘Winter Onion’ name comes from.
The other name – ‘Egyptian Onion’ – I’m beginning to wonder about. When my hubby came home from the DR Congo he told me about a farm he visited while he was there; they grow manioc and peanuts and corn as staples, but also have some other crops too. He told me that they were having a really hard time with onions because the weather is always so hot there. It never gets cold enough for the onions to go to seed. They want the onions to go to seed because they don’t want to keep buying seeds – they want to save the seeds for themselves for their next crop. When he told me this, I immediately thought of my crazy onions with the bulbs on top —- of course! They would work. They would keep growing and forming bulbs, and the farm hands could keep harvesting the bulbs on top for the next crop. No need for seed. Maybe these have already existed on that continent in the past? That would explain the third name – ‘Egyptian Onion’. It would be really exciting to see if the farm can somehow get these onions from elsewhere on the continent and try them out!
I want to grow garlic next year. Garlic that actually forms big bulbs, that I can cure and store in the basement hanging in braids. So I went to Ontario Seed Company in Waterloo and purchased some ‘seed garlic’. Now is the time to buy it – it gets planted October/November, when it’s so cold you don’t really want to be outside with your hands in the dirt. At least that’s what I’m getting from other people who’ve done it before.
In the pic above is the garlic I bought – it’s a hard-neck variety, the best for braiding because the stems will hold. Soft-neck garlic (usually the stuff in the grocery store from China, but not always) won’t really hold up for braiding. But I think I might head over to the grocery store and buy some to plant anyway, just for comparison. You can tell hard-neck vs. soft-neck fairly easily – see the hard stems coming out the top of the garlic in the pic? Yep. Hard-neck. Soft-neck garlic usually looks like it’s falling apart, with no sturdy stem in the middle. Maybe a little tuft that used to be a stem, but definitely not the woody stick that the hard-neck has.
These will sit on my desk as vampire repellents and conversation pieces until I plant them in the colder weather.