I have started to use a lot of garlic in my cooking (thanks to Emeril Live).
How is it grown? Can you start it from a clove you get at the store? When
is the best time to plant and harvest? I live in North Central Maryland
Zone 6. I also saw on a program that you can harves a little of the green
part and use it also although it is not nearly as strong as the cloves.
You can grow garlic even if you're blindfolded, drunk and lobotomized. And
yes, you can plant the store-bought stuff. Plant some RIGHT NOW, and one
more batch in late July. Finally, plant a crop in late October for growth &
harvest in mid to early spring next year. Plant the cloves with the root end
DOWN, about 3-4" deep. Water, cover with a little mulch (grass clippings or
whatever), and start looking up recipes.
Each clove will produce a head of garlic (underground) like you buy in the
store. The top growth will be nothing but green stalks, like onions and most
everything else in the Allium family. When the stalks begin to turn brown,
dig carefully underneath the bulbs to remove them. Cut off the browned
stalks, brush as much dirt off the garlic as possible, and place on a screen
to dry until the skin is crisp (for best storage). Some people braid the
stalks with the heads attached and hang the whole thing up. The key is dry,
clean skin, and harvesting them without bruising.
In 20 years of gardening, I've never found a pest of any kind that bothered
garlic. Dogs digging in the garden are a possibility, but here's a hint from
a Vietnamese friend: Dogs are delicious when properly cooked.
By the way, climate is not an issue with garlic, in terms of its ability to
survive winters. Climates further North than yours require planting the fall
crop a little earlier to allow for some root growth, but that's about it.
I have been growing garlic for over 30 years and it is VERY
easy to grow. Yes, you can use the cloves that you get in
In my area (we have fairly cold winters) is best to plant it
in the fall and let it "winter over" and it will be ready to
harvest in June (I just dug some from my garden yesterday).
You can also plant it in the early spring and it will be
ready a little latter (depending on what zone you are in).
If you have kids (or grand kids), let them help you plant it
and then when it is harvested use it on a food that they
like. This helps them appreciate growing things and they
can brag that "I grew that".
Plant in fall about 2-3 inches deep, 2-3 inches apart, harvest in July,
at least here in N.Y. Garlic is SUPER EASY! In June it will throw up a
ball of I guess they are seeds, cut it off as soon as you see it so that
the bulb will fatten better. In July the foliage will die back. Cut it
down, dig up the bulbs and hang to dry. Plant more in fall!
I concur that garlic is amonst the easiest to grow veggies. It is pH
tolerant, tolerant of poor soil, and overwinters easily in Zone 6.
1) your main crop will be planed in october for harvest in July.
2) despite advice from the other posters, hardneck garlic (not to be
found in store) is the superior choice for the home gardener. Bigger,
easier to peel, hardier, and much tastier. I got mine from Territorial
"Paul E. Lehmann" wrote in
It's been reported that some store garlic has anti-sprouting agents
applied (at least in the past). If you see a green shoot peeking
through, you should be okay.
Garlic likes cool weather. Mine has all wilted and turned brown, but
it comes back in January. I started them by planting a clove
(breaking apart all the "toes") in a row in front of my roses. They
are supposed to repel aphids but I don't think so. The foliage looks
nice in front of the roses. Plant in early spring, harvest in summer.
That is a good point. To be on the safe side you might want
to buy it at your local garden center. The problem is that
a lot of garden centers only sell it in spring and, as many
have said, fall is the best time to plant it in many areas.
The only things I would add are:
You can use the first growth for cooking. It's mild. You can get a
couple of cuttings. If you do this, you will not get a garlic head.
The plant will send up a flower stalk. It is easily recognizable since
the stalk is round while the leaves are flat. It has a pointed end (the
flower) and makes a loop or two. Interesting looking. Break it off. If
you don't remove it, the plant will send its energy to the flower and
not to the garlic head. The heads will be 30-50% smaller. You can use
the flower stalks in cooking (some of them may need to be peeled) but
they're a bit milder than the garlic. I just finished removing my
flowers here in New England. In Maryland they might be a bit earlier.
For those plants on which you missed the flowers, you will get some
small bulbils forming at the top of the stalk (which will straighten out
in the process of growth). You can plant these close and use the
resulting greens for cooking. I've never gotten a sizeable garlic head
from one of them.
Optimum sprouting temperature for garlic is 40F, the normal refrigerator
temperature. Don't store the garlic in the fridge.
If you plant in the fall and your ground freezes during the winter,
mulch your garlic. This is not to prevent the ground from freezing, but
to prevent it from thawing and freezing as the temperature changes over
the winter. The freeze/thaw cycling will heave the cloves out of the
ground and break whatever roots have grown to that point, setting the
garlic back a bit. That means smaller heads.
I don't remove the tops when I harvest the garlic. It dries fine. I just
bundle it into groups of 10 and set it on a screen (in my greenhouse). A
sunny spot is OK for drying, but don't store the garlic permanently in
the sun. The result will be greening of the heads, like potatoes. Air
circulation is essential for drying. When the heads are dry, cut off the
tops, trim the roots and brush off the dirt.
Hardneck varieties are difficult to braid. Even the softneck varieties
are difficult after the drying has started. Do it as soon as the plants
are harvested. Getting a good tight braid takes some practice.
When you harvest the garlic, set aside the biggest and best heads. You
will plant these in the fall for next year.
Garlic, like all alliums, likes rich soil. Compost works well, Give it
lots of fertilizer (within reason, of course). Water is essential,
particularly when the heads are sizing up (at flowering time and after).
My schedule in New England is: October-November plant and mulch; about
April go down the row looking for skips and move the mulch aside there
to allow the plant to emerge, replace mulch to keep weeds down;
fertilize in April; Remove flowers mid June to end of June; harvest late
July to August.