“It is not really an exaggeration to say that peace and happiness begin, geographically, where garlic is used in cooking.”
– X. Marcel Boulestin (1878-1943)
Garlic is one of those foodstuffs with myriad uses: it’s food, flavoring and medicine (garlic has been called an antiseptic and an antibacterial with anti-fungal properties). Americans eat about 3 pounds per person per year, and far east cultures eat over 50lbs. Garlic is delicious in just about every type of cuisine and, of course, it’s perfect for warding off vampires.
Garlic is closely related to leeks, shallots and onions. When planted, individual cloves act as seeds. The bulbs grow underground and the leaves shoot up through the soil.
The best part about growing garlic is that it reveals the magic of gardening. Just a few cloves, soil, a container or open row, and months later, voila — garlic in the kitchen! This spring we’re carrying silver rose garlic, Italian purple garlic and elephant garlic. We invite you to garden with us and learn to grow and cook with garlic. Bon Appetit!
Separate the cloves (a process known as “cracking”). Plant the garlic growingcloves 2 inches deep, point side up, in a bed prepared with soil conditioner, or E.B. Stone Planting Compost. Add E.B. Stone Sure Start just before planting. Space your rows about 6 inches apart, and the cloves 4″ to 6″ apart. After planting, cover with a mulch like straw, about 6″ inches above the ground. Water in. Garlic does not like to dry out during the growing season, so water regularly.
During the month of July, carefully scrape away some of the dirt around the top of one of the bulbs. If you can feel the bumps of the cloves through the wrappers of the bulb, your garlic has matured, it’s time to stop watering for two weeks. The tops will wilt. After that time, carefully lift the bulbs out of the ground using a shovel or garden fork. Do not wash them; allow them to air dry in a partially shaded spot.
Harvested garlic can be stored in a cool, dry place for a few months
Tips: Don’t plant garlic in the same bed you used the year before. Allow two years to pass before using that same bed for garlic again. This will cut down on insects and disease that might build up if the beds are planted with the same crop each year. Also, you can grow and eat the garlic tops — known as scapes — which can be sauteed like scallions.)
Trey Pitsenberger of Golden Gecko Garden Center shares his garlic knowledge in this issue of the Kitchen Gardener. Every so often we like to reach out to a different independent garden center to support the spread of gardening knowledge.