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Growing Garlic

Gabriel Valley Farms

Note: Gabriel Valley Farms is not open to the public. Please look for their organically grown plants at your local nursery. Sam hopes to have his garlic in nurseries by fall 2012.

Soil
Prepare well-drained soil with compost. Garlic is forgiving with average garden soil. It does appreciate some woody compost mixed in. There's a real kind of microbial or fungal kind of synchronicity that benefits the garlic if you use a woody compost.

Location
Full sun. You don't need a dedicated vegetable bed for garlic. Plant the bulbs among your other plants for its attractive winter foliage.

When to plant
In Texas, garlic grows all winter long. Mid-October is ideal but you can plant even until early December. Mid-October is best, though.

Fertilizer
Garlic likes a high-nitrogen fertilizer, but doesn't want hot shots. The best thing to do: in mid-September (or a month before planting) mix into your soil some compost and 8-2-4 fertilizer (or similar ratio). This allows compost and fertilizer to age and blend a bit.

Planting
Divide each bulb into cloves. Plant with the bottom basil plate down, pointy end up.
Punch a hole into the moistened soil and plant 2 deep.

Plant 4 -6 apart, depending on variety.

Water
Garlic wants about an inch of water a week to do best.

Harvesting
In late April or May, the garlic will send up a bloom scape or stalk. You want to cut that off so it doesn't put the energy into flowering. Toss that bloom scape into your recipes!

After that, it's about three or four more weeks, but it depends on the variety. The leaves will turn yellow or brown, and when it's brown about halfway up the length, it's time to dig!

After digging, hang to dry in shade with plenty of ventilation for 2-4 weeks. When completely dry, cut tops & roots off, store in paper or net bags in dark, cool, ventilated area (a closet in the house with central air works well.) You could even spread them out on cookie racks & store in a cabinet or pantry. Sam hangs the net bags from the closet rod & even leaves the closet doors open with a ceiling fan on.

Sam saves about 10% of each harvest to plant next year. Keep the bulbs intact until ready to plant next fall.

Varieties

  • Creole
  • Artichoke type: Lorz Italian
  • Turban varieties

Find out more and order online from Gourmet Garlic Gardens.