It’s time to plant garlic in the Northern Hemisphere! I encourage you all to try this as it is so easy, and extremely rewarding. There are all sorts of lovely types of garlic to try – some mild, some spicy, some long keepers, some beautiful braiders, and some just mouthwatering!
We had a lovely crop of garlic this year. And let me tell you that garlic is pretty darn resilient. We planted our garlic in mid- and late November. It sprouted and looked lovely. Then we moved at the end of April and brought some of the garlic with us, transported in a garbage bag placed inside a box with its own dirt and mulch.
It was in a hot moving truck for 2 days, and then remained inside the box for -ahem- at least 2 weeks. It also went through heavy rain without any drainage, so it was extremely muddy at times. Finally, we transplanted the garlic into the ground in late May. We harvested it in mid-summer, and… we had full heads of scrumptious, full-flavored garlic!
So, do try to plant garlic at the right time and under the right conditions. But if you muddle it a bit, garlic is fairly forgiving.
Types of Garlic
There are two types of garlic: hardneck and soft neck.
- Hardneck Garlic tends to have dramatic and distinct flavors, is easy to peel, and has generally bigger cloves. These also produce edible garlic scapes at the beginning of the summer. These are my favorite, but they generally don’t store for as long as softneck garlic. Can be stored 3-6 months.
- Softneck garlic is what you’ll find in most supermarkets – it generally has a milder flavor and smaller cloves. However, it can be braided, and generally stores for much longer. Can be stored for a year or more.
Elephant Garlic is actually a member of the leek family so it’s not really garlic, but tastes similarly. It has much larger cloves, with a milder taste than garlic, and it keeps well. Elephant Garlic is wonderful baked: slice off the very top of the head so that you can see the tops of the cloves, pour a bit of olive oil on top, and bake until soft and browned. Then you can eat it by scooping the cloves with a spoon, or adding the cloves to other dishes.
When To Plant Garlic
You can plant from September through mid-January, as long as the soil is not frozen. Fall planting, when the soil is around 60F, will yield the highest quality bulbs. But again, don’t worry too much if you plant it late – you can even plant it in late winter/early spring and still get a fall crop.
How To Plant Garlic
Well I was going to write about how to plant garlic, when I came across an article from Farm Mom that says everything that needs to be said about it! So go purchase some beautiful heads of organic garlic – either at the farmer’s market or at an organic seed supply like Seeds of Change, Peaceful Valley, or Territorial Seed.