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I’m Maria, the "Plant Killer Turned Plant Lady" with a mission to help you care for plants successfully, grow your indoor jungles, and cultivate more joy in your life. I've got tons of content for you here on the blog, on the Bloom and Grow Radio Podcast, and Bloom and Grow Youtube Show to help you keep blooming and keep growing.
Garlic is a staple in so many savory dishes, but if you’ve only ever cooked with the sad grocery store bulbs, it’s time to see garlic’s true potential by growing your own. The depth of flavor and variety that homegrown garlic offers blows store-bought out of the water. Lucky for us, plant friends, growing our own garlic at home is so easy! In this episode, homesteader extraordinaire Jill Winger walks us through how to grow garlic step-by-step, select varieties, grow, harvest, and store your own garlic for a steady supply of flavorful garlic all year long.
Growing Joy: The Plant Lover’s Guide to Cultivating Happiness (and Plants) by Maria Failla, Illustrated by Samantha Leung
The first step in growing garlic is selecting which variety or varieties you want to grow. There are two main types of garlic:
Softneck garlic: This variety has flexible stalks that can be braided for storage, their bulbs contain many smaller cloves packed tightly together, and usually do well in warmer climates.
Hardneck garlic: Contrary to softneck garlic, this variety has a stiff, woody central stalk and larger individual cloves, is extremely hardy through cold winters, and also produces curly scapes in early summer that are edible.
For the best comparison, choose at least one softneck and one hardneck variety to grow. This will allow you to see which you prefer in terms of flavor, storage, and ease of use.
When selecting bulbs, make sure to buy garlic specifically sold for planting purposes from a reputable source. Don’t use grocery store garlic sold for consumption.
Unlike most vegetables, garlic is usually planted in the fall rather than spring. Simply time your planting 4 to 6 weeks before your winter cold season starts.
The cooling weather triggers the garlic to go dormant and stimulate growth. Don’t worry about planting too late in the fall—garlic can handle light frosts.
It’s best to order garlic for planting from a reputable online supplier. Territorial Seed Company has a great selection of both softneck and hardneck garlic varieties.
When your garlic arrives, break the bulbs into individual cloves. Leave the papery covering on each clove intact—don’t peel it off. If you won’t be planting right away, store the separated cloves in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight with good airflow. A mesh bag or open basket works well. This prevents moisture from accumulating and causing the cloves to mold or rot.
Garlic grows well in loose, well-draining soil free of debris. It does not need rich, amended soil. Loosen the top 6 inches where you will plant and clear 4-6 inch circles for each clove. Plant the cloves root-side down, pointed end up, 4-6 inches deep, 6 inches apart. In cold climates, plant deeper, closer to 6 inches.. After planting, mulch over the bed to insulate the soil and prevent erosion.
One of the best parts of growing garlic is that you don’t have to do much between fall planting and summer harvest! After planting:
As plants mature, watch for the bottom 2-3 leaves to yellow and wither. This happens in mid-late summer, around June-July. About 1 week before your harvest date, stop watering to help dry plants.
When harvest time comes, gently dig down and lift each garlic bulb from the soil by hand. Take care not to break off the stalks from the bulbs. Lay the harvested plants on screens or mesh for a few days to cure. Proper curing helps bulbs stay fresh longer in storage!
For softneck varieties, you can braid the dried stalks together for hanging. For hardneck, simply trim the stalks down to an inch or two above the bulb.
Store cured heads in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight. A basement or any place with similar conditions will work well. Properly cured and stored, garlic will last for several months.
The true test of homegrown garlic is tasting it fresh! After harvest, try using raw cloves right away while their flavor is at its peak. Jill loves to roast her fresh garlic!
Garlic can also be used in endless recipes like pesto, hummus, sauces, soups, stews, and more.
You’ll never view garlic the same after tasting it right from the garden! Consider planting garlic this September or October, and you’ll reap the benefits all through next year. With the right curing and storage, your garlic harvest will provide months of flavorful cooking!
Growing garlic for the first time does not have to be a struggle! Skip the lines at the garden center and let Territorial Seed Company deliver top-of-the-line, healthy and hardy plants right to your door. They have a great line of pre-grown plants, an expansive seed catalog, and over 40 years of experience delivering the best seeds and plants for everyone’s garden. Whether you are looking for leafy veggies, flowers or edible plants in either seed or seedling form, Territorial Seed Company has your back.
Get 10% off by visiting territorialseed.com/growingjoy – discount applied at checkout.
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