Last fall after listening to a podcast I decided I wanted to try my hands at growing garlic. I went to amazon and ordered some planting garlic that was so gorgeous I hated to put them in the ground. They were a German hard neck garlic that cost 19.99 for 4 bulbs. I knew this was an expensive test but since I love garlic and the show convinced me that homegrown was delicious, I had to plant some.
I first cleaned my bed of any remaining plants from the previous season and then planted them about 6-8 inches deep. I spaced them about 6 inches apart and covered them with nice loose soil. I waited until our first frost and covered them with dry leaves.
As we had a very mild winter, I watched them sprout on occasion and could see them even when we had snow on the grown. I was worried that maybe I had not mulched them enough or the thawing and freezing they must have been going through would kill them. It did not.
When spring came and it was time to plant other things in my garden, I had to plant around my garlic plants which were very visible at that time. I chose to plant cabbage, broccoli and collard greens in my garlic area. I had read that garlic would help keep away the cabbage moths. The problem with planting close to the garlic was that once the garlic was ready to harvest. I had a bit of a challenge removing them without damaging the root system of my nearby plants.
On the first day of summer they were ready to harvest. I ended up with about 10 plants because I shared some of the cloves with a friend and I also cooked some of the ones that were really tiny and or damaged (in order to plant garlic, the wrapping must be in tact). In the end, I only ended up with 10 small to medium plants.
What I learned from this experiment is that garlic is easy to grow but it takes practice. A number of things I will do differently this fall when I plant again, includes buying less expensive garlic and planting all of it and, reserving a section for garlic only and not planting other plants in between them.
As far as the cabbage moths go, I still had a really bad outbreak around the first week of summer so I am not sure if it was that I should have planted more or is it just an old wives tale?
I found great satisfaction in harvesting and storing my own home-grown garlic and I think that with time I will figure out how to master the growing of this delicious plant. I also question if I may have fertilized it a little too late in the season, which could slow down the growth. I fertilized with fish emulsion which is high in nitrogen which should have aided in the growth process.
For the record, home grown fresh garlic is quite delicious and this particular variety had a milder taste than what I’ve purchased in the grocery store but I must warn you that the smell lingered in my house for days. I guess another benefit is that it is a great way to keep away vampires!