Thursday, October 3, 2013

Garlic Season!

In case you hadn't heard, October is the month to plant garlic in the PNW. Here's a few tips on how to grow great garlic:

  1. Choose the variety that is right for you. Hardneck garlic has a stiff stem, grows a garlic "scape" and is perfect to grow in areas with a hard winter. The cloves last longer and tend to be larger. Softnecks are the kind you can braid after being harvested, are better for growing in mild climates, and they make smaller, strong tasting cloves.
  2. Plant individual cloves a few inches below the surface, 6 inches apart.
  3. Fertilize with an organic fertilizer that is high in nitrogen in the spring, and again when bulbs begin to swell around May.
  4. Stop irrigating when bulbs start to dry down. 
  5. Harvest when bulbs have 3 to 4 layers of dry leaves or "skin" on them. Skin should be thick, dry, and papery.
  6. Dry in a shady, warm, well-ventilated area for 3 or more days. Don't leave in the sun- they can sunburn and become in-edible.
  7. Store in a dark, dry, well-ventilated area. Don't store in the refrigerator, this stimulates sprouting!

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