Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Growing garlic for the first time

This past year was the first time I grew garlic. I use a bunch of it and figured I might as well try growing it to save a little bit of money.

So last fall, I went to a local nursery and bought a bag of garlic cloves. I divided them up and planted them all. I had five 5 foot rows of garlic. I had planned on sharing with my sister. I mulched with plenty of straw and watered.

Long, cold winter later and finally spring arrived. The garlic started to sprout, but hardly any of it survived. I was kinda disappointed. I pulled back the straw to see if I could find any hidden garlic sprouts. I found a few but most looked rotted.

I did have some, so in the empty spots, I decided to plant some lettuce and spinach, which went bonkers and grew a ton. You can make out the garlic mixed in with the rows of lettuce and spinach.

While the garlic was growing, I did a ton of reading. I thought I had planted hard neck garlic because it was better suited for my area. I waited patiently for the garlic scapes to show up. I started to see them in the farm stores down the street from me, but mine didn't even begin to show them.

Eventually the leaves started to turn yellow and fall over. From what I have read, I can pull them when three or four leaves are left standing. Well, my plants only had about 4 leaves, so I waited until all were yellow and fallen over. It was about 8 1/2 months from the time I planted them in the fall.

What I pulled, was not at all like I expected to see. They were purple, not white like I had planted. They were also smaller than I expected. I also noticed they had small bulbs part way up the stems, before the leaves. I couldn't cut them off because I would loose the leaves. I dried out the bulbs and brought them in the house to cure longer.

I didn't wash off the dirt. I read that it will ruin the skin that forms over the bulbs. I brushed off the dirt once the garlic was dried. You can see some of the little bulbs that formed on the stems in this picture.

Here is a closer look at the bulbs. Little baby garlic cloves.

I posted on a homesteading group I belong to on facebook as to what was going on. I was told I pulled them way to early and should have waited a few more months. The little bulbs were suppose to be cut off (not sure how I was going to cut them off without cutting off the stems).These little bulbs take away from the growing clove in the dirt. Not all the garlic I pulled had these little bulbs. Not to mention, all the leaves had turned yellow and fell over. Was I suppose to wait till they dried out totally before pulling them? Not from what I have read.

It sounds like I had soft neck garlic, which is better for the warmer climates, not my cold NH area. I am going to order some hard neck garlic from either Johnny Seeds (they are located in Maine) or Baker (where I got most of my seeds this year). I will give it a go one more year and see what happens.

1 comment:

  1. Once you see the leaves starting to turn color, you can pick garlic at any time then. They've finished doing all their growing. And the purple color could be the plants picking up some minerals from your soil. Purple garlic is highly favored by the French and gets a higher price. Just be sure the garlic growing area isn't too wet since they prefer drier soil and your garlic will always do well.


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