Friday, September 26, 2008

It's Garlic Planting Time!

In Southern California, this is the perfect time of year to get your garlic started. And growing it is just as easy as starting it! Here are a few simple steps to wonderful, home grown, organic (hopefully) garlic!
Seeds – where do you get them?
You don’t use seeds. Get a head of garlic at the store, separate the cloves and you are ready to plant!

Planting – Take the cloves that you separated and plant them in the ground about 2 to 3” deep, with the hard side down. This is where the roots will sprout from. The pointed side should be up. Cover the clove back up with soil and water it well. Note – Garlic likes well drained soil and lots of organic material (mulch). The mulch will help keep it warm during the winter months.

Growing – your garlic will begin growing once the soil hits a temperature of around 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Water regularly, depending on your weather, but be careful not to drown it. They don’t like too much water during the winter months. I usually let mine dry out in between watering in the winter and they grow just fine.

Watering - Around May, you’ll want to water a little more frequently and a little deeper, especially as it gets hotter in your area. Water to about a 1” depth, maybe a little more depending on the type and size of garlic you are planting.

Harvesting – I usually harvest my garlic around August if I get it planted by November 1. You can usually tell when to harvest it because the lower leaves on the bulb will turn brown. Once that happens, dig one up, slice it in half and if the cloves are filling out the skins, they should be done. Notice I said DIG your garlic up. NEVER pull it out of the ground by it’s leaves. You’ll wind up with garlic still in the ground and a handful of useless leaves. Digging ensures you get your garlic.

Drying – Garlic must be dried some before consumption. That helps them to really taste good! You can put them outside in a bright shady spot or inside in a well ventilated room (unless you REALLY love the smell of garlic!). Let them dry for several days. You can tell they are ready when the top leaves are no longer green and the roots have dried out. This could take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, depending on your weather. While you need warmth to dry them out, garlic really prefers the temperature to be a little on the cooler side for storage.

Once you’ve harvested your garlic, take a couple of your best heads and put them aside for next years’ crop!

Happy Gardening!

Independent Garden Consultant
The Happy Gardener

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