The most amazing food!
It seems like every time I take something to a potluck that has fresh garlic in it, people ooh and aah over it. There is something divinely delicious about.
It is made even more glorious because growing garlic in your garden is so easy and it happens to store really well at room temperature too.
Not to mention it has amazing health properties and can be used as medicine (or to keep the vampires away). 😉
Needless to say, you can never have too much garlic around!
Unlike other vegetables, garlic is typically not grown from seed but from individual cloves planted in the ground. Each clove that is planted will grow into an entire head. How cool is that!
When I first started growing garlic, I simply bought a head or two at the grocery store, broke them into individual cloves, and planted them. And while that certainly worked, I had no idea what kind of garlic I was growing. For years, I had planned to buy garlic online but never could quite stomach the prices – mainly the shipping.
Finally, last year I happened to be in a local gardening store in the fall and lo and behold, they had heads of garlic for sale…and they had the variety that I had been
coveting looking at online for years! Plus they were buy one get one free.
I think I brought home 12 heads of garlic to plant. Ha, ha.
I think I got a little carried away.
The great thing is that those heads of garlic will continue to produce new heads that will be planted the following year indefinitely.
The variety that I planted is called “Inchellium Red” garlic. I had heard that it has great flavor, stores well, and has pretty purple stripes. It has definitely lived up to my expectations. It is also a soft neck variety which I was hoping to grow.
Garlic comes in two types. Soft neck and hard neck.
And guess what? They grow just like they sound.
Hard neck garlic has a stem that becomes very hard when dried. Almost like a stick or tree branch through the middle of the head. Soft neck garlic has a stem that stays soft and pliable. This is the kind that you can braid into a beautiful garlic braid and hang in your kitchen. Hard neck garlic needs to have the stem cut off and the garlic head placed in a basket, bowl or bag for storage.
But, I wanted a garlic braid. 🙂 Here’s my beautiful garlic braid hanging in my kitchen!
Hard neck garlic works fine too. You just can’t braid it. Which may or may not be an issue for you.
Most advice about growing garlic says to plant it in the fall. Typically around the beginning to middle of October where I live. But if you didn’t get around to it in the fall, it’s totally okay to plant it in early spring too. The heads just may not get as big as they would have.
Plant each clove with the pointy end up. Like this.
Plant it about 1-2 inches deep and cover with soil. They should be spaced 4-6 inches apart in all directions. They shouldn’t need much after that (assuming they get occasional water) until they are ready to harvest. Mulch will help keep the weeds down, reduce the watering needs, and will slowly feed them too. I highly recommend mulching!
When the plant tops turn brown and start to fall over, it is time to dig them up. This usually happens in June where I live. Don’t wait too long or the cloves will start to split apart.
Let the cloves dry for a couple of weeks in an area where there is plenty of air circulation and is away from pests. I brought mine into my kitchen and laid them on some stackable cooling racks but you could also lay them on an old screen, an old sheet, or on some cardboard. Just make sure they don’t overlap or they may not have enough air to dry well.
Once the outer skins are dry enough, they will easily crumble with just a little pressure from your fingers. If they don’t come off easily, they are not dry enough and need to wait another week or so.
I like to remove the dirty outer layer of paper skin, trim the roots off and braid the tops (this can only be done with soft neck garlic). I’ll see if I can write a post about how to braid garlic when my next harvest is ready…stay tuned.
I found that it worked best to wrap small pieces of garden twine or string around the braid every two inches or so to hold it all in place but this is probably optional.
Then all you need to do is hang it in your kitchen or pantry and pull off a head whenever you need fresh garlic.
Check out this post about how to peel a lot of garlic at a time. It stays fresh in the fridge for weeks at a time after it is peeled. There is nothing quite like having fresh cloves of garlic that you grew yourself ready and waiting for a quick and delicious meal.
Now get out there and plant some garlic.
Your dinner plans will thank you!