By Jannie Vaught
Garlic ( Allium sativum), is a species in the onion genus: Allium. Close relatives include onion, shallot, leek, chive, and Chinese onion. Is a bulbous plant growing up to 3.3ft. in height. If planted at the proper time and depth it can be planted as far north as Alaska. It produces hermaphrodite flowers, it is pollinated by bees, butterfly’s, moths and other insects. In North America,
, (known as wild garlic or crow garlic) and Allium canadense, known as “meadow garlic”, “wild garlic” or “wild onion” are common weeds in fields. So called elephant garlic is actually a wild leek (Allium ampeloprasum), and not a true garlic. There are Softneck garlic and hardneck garlic. This describes the central shoot from the center of the clusters. Softneck does not have a “scape” or the center shoot and is for warmer climates such as ours and Hardneck garlic has a “scape” with a flowering top are for colder climates. Lucky for us we can grow both types and some gardeners like the early harvest of the “scape” to make a pesto sauce.
Choosing and planting garlic.
If you research garlic growers you will find organic growers across the country. The variety’s range from colors of brown white and red or stripped and from mild flavors to hot. I have garlic I’ve grown for many years as it is adapted to my garden and every few years I add a new strain of both types. Just to keep it interesting. This year I am planting Mild French,Xian and Yellow potato garlic from Fillaree Farm. Yellow potato garlic, is an Heirloom variety once commonly grown by homesteaders for their strong onion flavor and extreme long storage- up to 18 months. Individual onions are 3-4″ in diameter in good condition. Like shallots, potato onions grown in productive clumps. Fall or spring plant.
How to plant garlic.
Prepare soil and amend with compost as usual preparation for a new garden bed. Separate the cloves and use the outer large cloves saving the smaller ones for the kitchen. You can pre- soak with compost tea, or a wash of vodka in water, about 1/2 cup per gallon to protect them from breaking down in the very cold. Or you can go straight into the ground planting one clove every 3 to 4 inches and the rows 2 feet apart.They are root down tip up and at least 1/2 inch under the soil line more if your in a heavy frost, freeze area.Leaving the outer paper skin on the clove as much as possible. their protective coat. And cover with a fluffy layer of mulch of leaves and hay to insulate them from the cold. If a freeze is coming I will place more on them. We are still rather warm here in zone 8a, and soil preparation can be done now and preparation for planting. But the purchase of garlic is now and planting can begin now into next month. It will be ready for harvest by next late spring to early summer. They will need some water and a light feeding. when the tops tip over they are ready for harvest. Lightly break the soil with a garden fork and gently pull them up. Shake off the soil from the root and let lie in the row to dry a little, I often use a garden table and lay them across the top keeping to tops straight so after they are fully dry I can braid them into lengths. Some gardeners tie them loosely in small bundles and hang them under a roof or car port and let them cure through the summer.I leave the roots intact and carefully clip them off when bringing them inside and all the root material goes into the compost. Fresh garlic is a real treat as the inner papers are not often formed and the garlic is very juicy.
When shopping look for organic grown with resistance to rot and white fly. And you can grow the garlic from the grocery store, but most is from out of the country and has been bleached to be white. Even though it feels too hot to garden we are all about the Fall growing.
Growing green with Jannie
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