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Growing Garlic

Silverskin garlic


Like daffodils and other winter hardy bulbs, garlic overwinters well here and is best planted in fall - from the middle of September to the middle of October. And just like daffodils, garlic is extremely easy to grow - it's as easy as just sticking some cloves into the ground and forgetting about them. All that's needed is a raised bed so things don't get too soggy for them in our wet winters.

And any kind of garlic that appeals to you can be grown from its cloves. The best kinds of are usually found in Italian and Greek specialty stores. Check them out, and plant the garlic you like best.

Like all biennials, garlic stores growth resources in a bulb in its first year, and then flowers in its second year. This means that when the planted cloves sprout next year, they need a lots of fertilizer to make lots of green growth - the more green growth the larger the bulbs. Side dress once a week with a high nitrogen fertilizer, starting in spring and throughout their green growth period.

Plant the cloves root side down, about twice as deep as the height of the cloves, three to four inches apart in the row, in rows 12 inches apart. Five to ten feet of row will provide all but very large Italian families with all the garlic one can use. Garlic is disease and insect free - it is often used as in insect deterrent - and in our typical springs and summers, irrigation is not needed either.

Harvest garlic when the seed stalks are mature, or depending on kind, when the top leaves turn brown and fall over. Dig up the bulbs, leave the leaves attached, and hang them in the sun to dry. After they have dried the stalks can be removed, or left on and braided together for a garlic braid. Save the largest cloves for planting in the fall again. And that's all there is to growing an abundance of your own organic, poison free and supremely healthy garlic.

Silverskin
This familiar variety can also be grown from an early spring planting, and is great for long storage and braiding

Rocambole
With a hotter flavour than Silverskin, this garlic is the favourite among chefs, and is best planted in fall. Breaking off the flower stalks results in larger bulbs. Initially, the inner skin is purple which turns brown when cured.

Elephant Garlic
This is the mildest garlic and makes huge bulbs which mature in August, from its green growth which can grow five feet tall. Its cloves often rival the size of the whole bulb of the other garlics. It is also best planted in the fall. Because of its mild flavour, it is often used just like a vegetable in scrumptious gourmet dishes.



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