January 6, 2014
Planting Garlic At The Farm
One of the last things to be planted before winter at the farm is the crop of hardneck garlic. Last July, I posted a blog about harvesting the garlic crop and I thought it would be fun to show you how and when garlic gets planted. Although garlic can be planted in the spring as soon as the ground can be worked, fall planting is recommended for most gardeners. This allows extra time for the bulbs to become larger and more flavorful for the summer harvest. The garlic was planted in November, before the ground became frozen.
1 Last July, I posted a blog about harvesting the garlic crop at my farm. These are bulbs that were set aside to plant for next summer's crop.
2 This type of garlic is known as hardneck, for its stiff central stalk. The more common supermarket garlic is called softneck, producing long-lasting bulbs with many cloves around a soft center stem.
3 Hardneck garlic produces fewer cloves than softneck and doesn't have as long a shelf life, however, hardneck is favored by chefs and cooks alike for its intriguingly complex flavors.
4 For planting purposes, the heads of garlic were broken apart into single cloves, keeping the papery husk covering the cloves intact. This is called ‘cracking’.
5 The individual cloves are planted in the fall and grow into mature heads for the summer harvest.
6 These hardneck varieties are Georgian Crystal, Red Rezan, Russian Red, German Hardy, Polish Hardneck, and Chesnoke Red. They were chosen for their hardiness in this growing area.
7 I wanted the garlic planted in the bed next to the vegetable garden adjacent to the chicken coops.
8 This bed is in full sun, the soil is well-drained, and has been amended with plenty of organic matter from the farm's compost yard.
9 Ryan and Wilmer used stakes and string to mark off two long, straight and narrow rows.
10 To form holes for planting the garlic cloves, Ryan used a garden dibber, also called a dibble.
11 Garlic should be planted 4-inches apart and about 2-inches deep.
12 To speed thing up, Ryan worked down the rows using two dibbers simultaneously.
13 Wilmer followed along with the garlic.
14 The cloves were placed in their holes in their upright position - root end down and pointed end facing up.
15 Wilmer then covered the cloves with soil.
16 In the spring, as temperatures become warmer, the garlic will send up flower shoots, called scapes.
17 This is what those scapes look like. Scapes are the unopened flower buds of hardneck garlick that appear about a month after the first leaves.
18 Those scapes should be cut off as they take energy away from the bulb, decreasing bulb size.
19 The scapes, with their mild garlic flavor are delicious made into pesto, lightly grilled, or minced for salads or baked potato garnish. Some cooks even pickle them! So, growing garlic is like growing two crops in one!