Planning To Plant Garlic

Walk into any decent Italian restaurant and take a deep breath. That warm spicy aroma tingling your nose is quite likely garlic. That incomparable deep flavor that makes Italian dishes sing.

You can bring this into your own kitchen through bulbs of garlic purchased at a box store, but why do that when garlic is so easy to grow?

Garlic braid

Now is the time to start planning for your fall planting of garlic. Yes, it is somewhat counter-intuitive, but some plants are designed to spend their winter nestled in the cold earth. Garlic is just such a plant.

There are two basic types of garlic and numbers of varieties within those types. Like any other plant, the specific varieties have different advantages of flavor, storage, etc.

Hard Neck Garlic

These bulbs of garlic are different from the kind you normally find available in the store. The bulb forms a hard center stem that grows up through the bulb to support the leaves. As the bulb is opened, there are typically 6 or 8 cloves of garlic around this center stem. The cloves are full and large. Varieties we grow are: Music, Bogatyr, and German Red.

Soft Neck

This garlic does not form that hard center stem. Softer leaves shoot out of the middle and many cloves form around this center. The outer cloves are reasonably sized with size decreasing as you near the center. Even the outer cloves do not attain the size of the hard neck ones. We grow Inchelium Red

After you receive your garlic bulbs, either through a mail order supplier or somewhere local, don’t peel off the outer papery cover until you are ready to plant. Store the bulbs in a cool, dry place until ready to plant.

At this point you should also plan where you will plant your garlic. Choose a sunny location that is well drained with rich soil.  You will need 6-8 inches of space per plant.

This post is the first in a series about home grown garlic. Our next post will cover the characteristics of the garlic varieties we grow. In the meantime, check out this post about how to use garlic bulbils.

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