Friday, 14 October 2011

Garlic, plant it now. Really.

Although I have been gardening for 20 years, give or take, last year was the first time I ever really planted garlic. Sure, over the years, being big on companion planting and organic pest control, I occasionally threw a few cloves around the rose bushes to repel pests, but I never actually harvested those bulbs. I just left them there all summer and then whacked them down in fall.

Follow these incredibly easy instructions to great garlic at home...
Break apart the bulbs of garlic into cloves.
Soak them in warm water, a teaspoon of baking soda, and a tablespoon of liquid seaweed, for two hours.
Plant 6 inches apart, 3 inches deep, with the pointy end up into a bed of rich soil, top with compost.
Cover with up to 8 inches of straw. Last year I had no straw and therefore left them as they were, they all did beautifully well anyway. This year I will try the straw to see if it makes a difference.

These are the two varieties that I planted up this year. Three packages of each, so about 90 cloves in total. Am actually wondering whether I shouldn't plant up yet one more raised bed of them?

Last year, I grew Music and Gabriola and both varieties were so successful that I became totally hooked on growing garlic.

The garlic bed in early spring, shortly before the tops begin to curl into lovely and delicious scapes.

Garlic scapes are the curls at the tops of the green stalks in spring. They are fabulous in stir fries or simply oven roasted with sea salt and olive oil.

It stands to reason, though it took me this many years to catch on, that fresh garlic is much tastier, fresher, more pungent, more flavourful than anything store bought can possible be. Amazing!

After the green stems have yellowed about 1/2 to 3/4 of the way up the stalk, the garlic is ready to be lifted. Lay them out to cure in a shady spot with good air flow for a few weeks. 

Then, simply brush off the dirt, trim off the stalks and roots. Your garlic is now ready to store till eaten or to be planted up again in October.

Of course, they can be eaten immediately after picking, no need to wait. In fact, there is nothing better than really fresh garlic cloves, the flavour is absolutely amazing, unlike any that you have ever tasted from the shops.

Plant your garlic now, really, so easy to grow, more tasty than you can imagine, you won't be sorry that you did. I promise! 

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