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Growing Garlic

Garlic was first cultivated in ancient Asia and the Mediterranean. A few wild stands may still remain in Mongolia and Afganistan.

History - Growing Garlic - Harvesting Garlic - Storing Garlic - Garlic Uses - Garlic Pests

History

Garlic, has been grown for more than 5,000 years and is thought to be one of the oldest cultivated plants in the world.

Egyptian slaves received a daily dose of garlic to keep them in good health while they built the pyramids.

Garlic was introduced to the Americas in the 14th century, and is now an important part of cuisines worldwide.

Garlic's Ancient History

Garlic and Folklore

The Healing History of Garlic

Growing Garlic

Garlic bulbs are composed on individual cloves surrounding a stem. Technically these cloves are "auxiliary buds" of the leaves.

Because garlic requires a cold period to form cloves, fall planting is recommended.

About 10 days before freeze up in your area (this allows some time for root development, but the shoots do not emerge) plant your individual cloves 1 to 2 inches deep, 5 to 6 inches apart in rows 16 to 20 inches apart.

Cloves should be removed from each other just prior to planting, as single cloves tend to wither and dry up.

Cover each fall planted row with an organic mulch, such as straw or leaves to 10 inches deep for winter protection. The mulch can be removed from the rows in spring once the temperature has warmed enough to avoid an early frost.

Cloves can be planted in early spring, but may not have enough season to mature. (Some people store cloves in the fridge for a week and plant as early as possible, with good results).

As much growth as possible should be produced by the end of June as this is when the cloves are forming.

Garlic is not really a heavy feeder, but does need adequate water, up to 1 inch per week throughout the growing season.

Garlic is not a strong competitor, so a heavy mulch between the rows will keep the weeds down and conserve moisture.

Reduce water supply in early August to encourage top die back and discourage bulb rot.

There are many strains of garlic but three main types are generally grown:

Hard Neck Garlic - tends to bolt during growing season producing flowering "scapes" which must be pinched off to ensure good bulb size.

Soft Neck Garlic- doesn't' bolt, produces more, but smaller cloves.

Elephant Garlic- mild (almost leek like) flavour, very large bulbs and cloves. It needs a very long growing season.

Each garlic variety does best in certain areas, so shop locally, but do not be afraid to experiment.

Harvesting Garlic

Garlic should be harvested when the bottom third of the leaves become yellow (late August). If allowed to dry right down, the cloves may shatter during harvest.

Plants should be pulled, excess soil wiped (not washed) away, and the bulbs allowed to cure in a warm dry place. Spread your bulbs on the garage floor, or dry soil or grass for 7-14 days.

Once the bulbs have cured, snip the roots off, and trim tops to about 1 inch above the bulb.

Storing Garlic

Garlic can be stored in fridge for up to six months. Probably the best method is to use mesh bags with 10 to 12 bulbs in each and store these bags in a cool dark place.

If braided when the leaves are still green, garlic can be hung on a kitchen wall for a limited time once the bulbs have cured.

Uses For Garlic

Garlic is reported to have many health benefits and even boost the human immune system. If nothing else, you should enjoy a large variety of dishes especially Italian dishes seasoned with this hearty herb. And an extra bonus according to folklore ....you will not be bothered by vampires. Enjoy!

Pests

Onion maggots, wire worms, and white maggots attack garlic and can do a great deal of damage. There are insecticides for home use to combat these problems. Crop rotation is also advisable.

Penicillin mould, a mass of blue green spores (looks like blue dust) is a major cause of storage rot.

Neck rot may occur if bulbs are not cured properly.

Store only firm healthy bulbs, dispose of any moldy, or soft bulbs.

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