Saturday, October 17, 2009

Garlic Time

Fall is the time to plant garlic and there is nothing better than fresh garlic from your garden. It tastes so good and is extremely pungent, much more so that what is typically found in the grocery store. Garlic is an important herb, and a powerful antibiotic. It helps prevent colds and flus, aids in cardiovascular health and regulating cholesterol and is a great antioxidant as well.

Garlic is easy to grow. It is a heavy feeder so needs lots of good compost and fertilization, but that's about it. The soil should be well draining, and have a ph in the 6.5 to 7.0 range. A good dusting of lime can boost the ph in the soil, but I have never had a problem growing garlic in a good compost.

I start with organic garlic heads from Johnny's Seeds in Maine and like their German Extra Hardy stiffneck garlic. Garlic is known as either stiffneck, which has a stiff stalk in the middle, or softneck, which is typically the type of garlic that is braided. There are many different varieties of garlic so you can try several or find your own favorite. I find the German Extra Hardy grows well and also keeps well throughout the winter.

The cloves are separated from the head of garlic, and planted individually. Each clove will become its own plant and develop a head of garlic. I take the papery wrapping off the garlic clove, but others don't so you can experiment with that. The cloves are planted pointed end up. Make sure to mark where you planted your garlic, and after the ground has frozen put a thick layer of mulch over the area and wait for Spring.

In the Spring, the shoots will appear and can use a good side dressing of compost or high nitrogen fertilizer. I like to fertilize through the season with a seaweed emulsion. And make sure to keep the area well weeded.

Here's my garlic growing from last summer. More next summer on how and when to harvest but get your garlic planted now.

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