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How to Grow Garlic

How to Grow Garlic - Everything you need to know from choosing your garlic seed
planting stock to harvesting, curing and even how the garlic will store best in your
Step 1. Choosing your garlic planting stock -Your seed stock is the most
important facet of growing garlic. It all starts at the clove! Each individual clove is
a garlic seed and it will grow into a bulb. Beginning with premium garlic planting
seed stock will make a huge difference come harvest time. When choosing your
garlic seed, plant the largest cloves of each garlic bulb, small cloves should be
eaten. To separate cloves from the bulb, hold the bulb in one hand and use the
other hand to break the cloves free of the bulb. Crack the cloves apart.
Step 2. Preparing your soil for planting garlic - Your soil is the next most
important thing to growing garlic. Naturally grown garlic loves good drainage and
loamy, fertile soil. Amending the soil with naturally grown matter such as compost,
manure, leaf mulch and aged straw is highly recommended. Your soil should have
a neutral ph level between 6 and 7.

How to Grow Garlic

Step 3. Planting Garlic - When to plant your garlic – We start planting garlic
around Halloween and continue planting garlic thru November. This is a good
guide line for almost all climates. Plant at the turning point of the seasons; with
enough time for planting garlic before the ground is frozen. Try to allow three to
four weeks for the cloves to settle into their winter beds, this will help the leaf
development in the spring. Plant the naturally grown garlic seed 5 to 6 inches
apart with the tips up. Cover the top with 3 3/4 inch to 5 inch of amended, loose
dirt and gently pat down the top layer of soil. In colder climates cover your
naturally grown garlic seed with 4 1/2 to 6 inches of dirt.
Step 4. Mulching and irrigating garlic- After you have your garlic planting stock
in the ground, it is essential to cover it with a nice layer of mulch. There are many
different types of mulch. Choose from aged straw, (careful no seeds) leaf mulch,
grass clippings, naturally grown compost, shredded paper. Mulch will protect your
garlic seed in the cold winter months, prohibit weeds, keep the earth cool and
moist during hot months and protect your topsoil from blowing away. Garlic likes to
be kept evenly moist. Uneven watering may cause irregular shaped bulbs. This is
where your good soil preparation and mulching becomes important. Water your
garlic regularly during the leaf production stage. Apply some nitrogen rich foliage
feed 2 to 3 times in spring.
Step 5. When to harvest garlic - Hardnecks will produce a flower stalk or scape.
The scape when it is still curled is tender and can be eaten; it is best remove the
scape so the plant puts energy into growing the bulb rather then the flower. The
softneck garlic bulb will normally only produce a scape when the plant is under
stress and this usually means the plant is ready for harvest. Stop watering when
the plant starts to brown up, about two weeks before harvest. When the plant has
three to four browned leaves it is ready for harvest. To avoid damaging the outer
skins, always use a shovel to carefully remove the garlic bulb from the earth, don't
just pull it out. Gently remove the dirt from the roots and outer skin, but don’t
remove outer skin. It is best to harvest when the temperature is cool, either early
morning or late evening
Step 6. Curing and Storing Garlic - Bundle your garlic plants with twine and hang
to cure. Choose an area with good circulation and out of direct sunlight. Curing
your garlic will take 3 to 4 weeks. You will know it is ready when you cut the first
stalk, if garlic juice oozes from the stalk - it's not quite ready. Once garlic is cured,
cut off stalk leaving 1 1/2 to 2 inches. Trim roots to 1/4 inch and gently brush off
outer layer of dirt being careful not to peel off outer skin. The garlic stores best in a
cool dry place, 50 to 60 degrees is ideal. A root cellar or cool basement is a good
storage place. Do not store the garlic in a refrigerator as the cool temperature will
signal to the bulb it is time to grow, causing it to sprout in the refrigerator. Save
your larger bulbs to plant the next season’s garlic; enjoy the smaller bulbs in your
cooking and cuisine.
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