We love garlic; there is nothing tastier than a simple bowl of pasta with a little bit of garlic and butter. Or a nice roasted clove of garlic to rub over freshly baked bread, or honestly to just eat as is. When I think about it, the possibilities are almost endless in savory cooking for what garlic can do to augment a dish’s flavor. As an avid gardener, it makes sense to set aside a decent part of the garden for our base eating needs; in the winter, that’s a nice hefty patch of garlic.
When to Plant:
As mentioned in previous posts, we are truly blessed to live in the area we do for gardening. Still, it can make planting some of the colder hardy crops a bit of a crapshoot when getting them into the ground. As we harvest a batch of peppers this week (some that I believe will be our last) we’re also deciding it’s cool enough to plant garlic. For the last few years, I’ve tried to get the cloves into the ground right around Thanksgiving, giving us a harvest around late July. We didn’t have that much success with our garlic last year, we’re taking a different approach to planting and maintenance this year.
What types to plant:
After researching, I’ve heard that planting hard neck varieties in our zone can be troublesome. But I have grown them successfully in the past, so we’re going to keep giving it a shot until it’s no longer viable. The difference between the hard neck and soft neck varieties are very basic. The hard necks have a tough stem running through the bulb’s center that produces a tasty flower (scape). More on that later. And the hard neck varieties usually have fewer cloves than their soft neck counterparts. This year we’ve planted 6 different varieties, 3 hard necks: Purple Glazer, Persian Star, Chesnok Red, and 3 soft necks: Early Italian, Susanville, and Inchelium.
How to Plant:
We went the traditional route, nothing fancy. We picked the biggest cloves and planted them about 2 inches apart and 2 inches deep. If we have a funky harvest this year, we’ll look at putting the cloves in the fridge for a few weeks and soaking them before putting them into the ground. We made sure we had excellent soft soil with a layer of compost mixed in. We made sure to water everything down, and tomorrow we’ll add a nice pile of leaf mulch on top of everything.
Let’s be honest; all garlic is not the same. One of the main reasons why I plant the hard neck variety is for the summer scapes. I have never tasted something so delicious in my life, that is really a bi-product of the plant. I am already dreaming of adding the scapes to stir-fry and making compound butter.
Last year, our harvest was not the best, our bulbs were small, and some did not make it. I think our biggest issue was planting in very depleted, hard soil. And if we’re honest, I don’t think I watered as much as we should have through the winter months to offset the slightly dry winter we had. This year we’ve moved the garlic bed into the main garden with fresh soft soil; we added some fertilizer and will make a point to water along with the rest of the winter crops. Hopefully, by July, we’ll be rolling in a massive crop of tasty, tasty garlic.