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It was something we decided on a whim, but planting garlic seems to be one of the best choices we’ve made for our garden.

Our first harvest of garlic from the garden.

Our first harvest of garlic from the garden.

Although a few either rotted in the ground or were dug up by squirrels, we ended up with almost two dozen bulbs. Four of those are elephant garlic, which are actually closer to a leek than garlic, and each bulc is about the size of a baseball.

The elephant garlic also had about a dozen little “thingies” growing on the bottom. They look like really hard, tiny cloves and a bit of research shows their often called “bulblets” or “korms.” We can replant them, but it will take two years for them to form into a full bulb. It’s worth a shot anyway.

I think the hardest part of growing garlic will be saving the nice cloves to make sure we have enough to plant next year. We’re not experts, but here’s the basic process of growing garlic:

 

1. Plant in the fall. One clove will produce a new bulb. Plant them pointy side up. We were probably a bit late by planting in early November, and this year we’ll aim for October.

2. In the spring, the plants emerge and leaves can get fairly tall. Our elephant garlic was probably about 3 feet.

3. Some varieties produce scapes, and you can cut those off (don’t let them flower) to use in cooking. We made a really good salad dressing from it. I’ll post that recipe later.

4. The garlic is ready when about half the leaves get brown/yellow and flop over. Don’t pull from the leaves, but rather dig up the bulbs with a trowel or small hoe.

5. You could use it right away, but if you want it to last all year it needs to cure. To do that, hang it in a cool place with decent air circulation for a couple weeks. It might take longer depending on humidity. Make sure to leave the leaves and roots intact.

6. After it has formed a papery skin, lightly rub off the dirt, trim the leaves to the top of the bulb (a little bit should stick up above the bulb) and trim the roots almost all the way down.

Our garlic hanging in the basement to cure.

Our garlic hanging in the basement to cure.

So far what we’ve used has been phenomenal. It tastes so much better than store-bought garlic and will definitely be a staple in our garden for years to come.

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