One of the first things I’d recommend to a gardening beginner is trying their hand at growing garlic. It is easy to grow, a staple in a ton of recipes, and needs very little room in your garden. Even with very limited space, you can grow enough garlic to be self-sufficient for most of the year. Once you nail the basics of growing garlic and storing it correctly, you’ll wonder why you ever felt intimidated by it.
There are dozens of varieties of garlic but to start with the basics, you need to understand the difference between the softneck and hardneck varieties. Garlic in the softneck variety die and leave the bulb and flexible stems behind. Garlic in the hardneck variety have a stiff stem in the center with a cluster of bulbs. Most of the time, the garlic you buy in the grocery store is softneck and I recommend starting there.
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Once you’ve chosen your variety, you’re ready to start growing garlic.
Garlic should be planted mid-fall (around early to mid October) in loose, fertile soil. Plant the garlic root-side down with the tips about 2-inches deep and with approximately 8 inches of space in all directions. As the garlic grows you’ll notice green shoots coming up through the soil. The shoots will die after a hard freeze. After the freeze, mulch over the bed of garlic. In the spring, when new shoots sprout, pull the mulch back and keep them weeded. If the soil is dry near the root (about 2-inches deep) water the garlic but never pour water into the crown of the plant.
Harvest season for garlic varies based on your climate zone (find yours here). The harvest window is pretty wide if you plan to eat or sell the garlic while it’s fresh but the harvest window is narrow if you are looking to maximize storage life. The garlic bulbs are ready for harvest when the lower leaves have browned and the top leaves are still green. The garlic heads are more delicate than they seem so be careful when working with it. Harvesting is easier if you choose a day when the soil is dry because it’s easier to loosen. To harvest the garlic loosen the soil with a digging fork (working well away from the heads) then lift them out of the row and place them in a single layer in a flat tray.
After harvesting the garlic, let the plants dry on a flat tray in a single layer out of the sun. It should be warm, but not overly hot. When the outer skin of the garlic is mostly dry and feels papery, brush off as much dirt as possible and clip the roots. The garlic will still look dirty but you want to leave it that way to maximize shelf life.
When the garlic is cleaned and ready to store, you want to store it between 55 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit, with good air circulation and light but out of the sun. I usually just keep mine in the pantry or storage closet. When storing garlic, avoid the refrigerator as cold leads to sprouting.
Ready to try growing garlic for yourself? I promise it’s easy! To get you started, I have FIVE pairs of Digz Gardening Gloves to giveaway.
Digz Gardening is responsible for all shipping and handling of the giveaway prizes. If you win, your shipping information will be forwarded to their marketing department.
Have any gardening tips or tricks to share? Tweet me @ashleyfromhp or share them below.