The July/August 2010 issue of Women's Health magazine stated:
Garlic is "an herb that may fight off cancer. People who took a daily garlic capsule — equal to eating one clove — showed a reduction in a process that turns nitrates (such as those found in processed meats or contaminated water) into carcinogens in the body. Source: Analytical Biochemistry"
Once you have garlic in your garden, you'll be surprised how often you'll be harvesting and enjoying it. In the spring are the "green garlic" which emerge from cloves left in the garden (either intentionally or by accident) the previous fall. Next are the garlic scapes -- the immature flower stalks that add flavor to your dishes and whimsy to your garden with their curlicue stalks. August brings an abundance of fat juicy heads of garlic just bursting with flavor. Properly cured and stored, these harvested garlic heads will be an ingredient in many dishes throughout the fall and winter, lasting you until the next year's crops.
At first, large plump heads of garlic alluded us until we learned an important tip: every year select the largest cloves of your harvest to replant in the fall. Year to year the overall size of the heads will become larger.
Our current favorite varieties of garlic are 'Polish Jenn' and 'Montana'. Try different varieties to explore their range of flavor, size, and storage characteristics.
How you prepare garlic affects it's taste and chemical make-up. Read "The Science of Cooking With Garlic" to learn more.
- Cool season crop, planted in the fall and harvested in late summer.
- Buy cloves from a reputable nursery. Using garlic from the grocery store won't be successful..
Planting and Tending
- There are two basic techniques for growing garlic. The Annual Method harvests all the crop at the end of the season (August) and replants a fresh crop in early fall. With the Perennial Method, not all the plants are harvested; some plants are left in place to produce crop the following year.
- Plant in garden in early fall -- typically that's late September or early October for us.
- Plant cloves 1-2” deep (pointed end UP), with 3 to 6 inches between plants.
- Keep free of weeds.
- Do not provide supplemental water during the summer unless it's been an unusually dry season.
- Light feeder. To fertilize, use compost and liquid seaweed extract.
- Remove (and enjoy eating) the flower scapes when they are still immature. Cut any remaining flower buds so that energy is redirected to the bulb.
- Harvest and cure all plants in late summer (typically late August), OR use the Perennial Method and only harvest the largest of the bulbs (enough for your consumption over the fall and winter) and leave the smaller plants to return the following year.
- If using the Perennial Method, spread a 3-4" leaf mulch over the beds in October.
- Harvest in late summer when the plants are fully matured and the tops no longer green.
- Use a tool to dig them out. The tops usually are not strong enough to pull the plants out by. Be careful not to bruise the heads -- it encourages mold and shortens the storage life.
- Let the harvested bulbs air dry in a dry place out of the sun, but with indirect light. We place ours near an open garage door or just inside a shed. Full air circulation for 2 weeks is necessary for complete drying and curing.
- Once dried, cut the tops leaving 1 to 2 inches.
- Do not try to store bulbs that are bruised, cut or have green tops.
- Store indoors in a dry place away from potatoes, and cover with a kitchen towel to keep them dark.
- First use any heads where the cloves are separating from each other.
- Check regularly and use or discard any that begin to soften or rot.
Companion PlantingHelpful companion throughout most of th garden. Repels japanese beetle, aphids and many other pests.
- Plant near:
- Do not plant near:
Visit the Vegtables Forum at GreatLakesGardeners.com to get answers to your growing vegetables questions. To ask a new question, Register if you haven't already done so(it's free and helps protect the forum from spam), click on Start New Topic, enter your question and click on Post New Topic.
You may also appreciate these books on growing vegetable gardens.