|Thursday Tips & Techniques: Growing Garlic|
|Written by Heleigh Bostwick Thursday, 20 October 2011|
Anyone interested in growing garlic should be planting it right now at the beginning of October, because garlic (Allium sativum) is a bulb and must be planted in the fall. Sure, you can use that garlic that’s sprouting in your pantry, but I wouldn’t recommend it. What you want to use is the garlic seed cloves sold in vegetable catalogs specifically for growing garlic crops.
The nice thing about garlic is that it can be grown is almost every climate including colder climates where the growing season is short. There are two types of garlic, hardneck and softneck, each with a number of varieties. Most home gardeners plant hardneck garlic such as "Rocambole", "Purple Stripe," "Glazed Purple Stripe", "Marbled Purple Stripe", and "Porcelain". Softneck varieties are typically grown commercially, some that are suitable for the home garden. Within these varieties are “named selections”, which is what you’ll see in the vegetable catalog. Because there are so many varieties of garlic you might want to try growing several different ones to see which you prefer once it’s harvested.
Garlic prefers a sunny location with well-drained soils high in organic matter, with a neutral pH. If your soil is low in organic matter add some well-composted manure or equivalent. Plant the garlic seed cloves by the beginning of October to allow the root system to get established. Separate the cloves from the bulb on the day of planting. Each clove should be planted 2 to 3 inches deep and about 6 inches apart, and then covered with 3 to 4 inches of straw mulch for the winter. Make sure the soil remains moist but not wet in preparation for the winter months.
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