Growing Garlic for Beginners

Can I just say that I am on board for anything simple, that makes it look like I did a lot of work? That makes garlic the perfect garden addition. Not only is it simple to grow, but it helps deter pests on surrounding (or inter-planted) veggies!

Step 1: Prepping.

Prepare soil by weeding or covering with cardboard or a tarp a few months in advance to kill any growth and feed the soil. Once it’s clear, mulch heavily with compost and/or straw. If using only straw, I recommend using a natural fertilizer every other week like fish emulsion or, gasp!, diluted urine. One part urine from a healthy individual to 9 parts water yields a free fertilizer high in nitrogen that has been used for centuries.

Step 2: Planting. (Early Spring or mid-Autumn)

Dig holes about 2-3 inches deep, making sure to loosen the surrounding soil for proper bulb growth. Bury individual garlic cloves with paper still on, pointy end up. You want at least six inches in between plants. The smaller the clove, the shallower it should be planted. A normal clove should have about an inch of dirt covering it whereas Elephant Garlic should have about three inches of head room. Garlic can be planted alongside a host of vegetables like herbs, tomatoes, greens, carrots and potatoes or left by itself in neat little garlic beds.

Step 3: Harvesting.

When the lower leaves start to dry, droop, and overall look sad, pull up one garlic bulb to check if it is truly ready. A general rule of thumb is when half of the leaves (each leaf comes from an individual clove) dry up, it is ready to pull up. When planting in early spring, I personally have found that the summer heat speeds up the garlic’s readiness and noticed the bottom third of the plants looking weak and yellow. They were practically overdone and it was only June!

Tips:

Garlic needs consistent, well drained and moist soil. Water-logged soil can contribute to rot and over-dry soil can yield small bulbs that mature too early.

After harvesting, gently brush any dirt off and hang in a shady, breezy area for two weeks to cure.

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