This year, I am growing my own garlic from the garlic I grew last year. It was just from a package of hardneck garlic that I grew last year. No variety listed, just that it was a hardneck. In theory, if I keep doing this, I should develop a garlic that is well suited to my yard, my soil and my care, as well as the wonderfully sporadic weather we get here. So I would like to keep at least one bulb a year to re-grow the next year. Which is exactly what I have done this year. I kept myself from cooking with the largest bulb I got, as well as keeping a few of the smaller ones to see how they got through storage in my pantry.
Awhile ago, I wrote a post about the store bought garlic being mostly from China, and how silly that was since we can grow it here. I originally wanted to be able to grow ALL my own garlic (and possibly enough for my parents too), within 5 years, but I don’t think that is a great timeline anymore. Unless I magically get my own large garden again.
I have found that since I am not organized enough in the fall to plant my garlic then, by giving it a head start in the spring, I can still get a decent crop from it. This allows the garlic to develop some roots before it has to fend for itself outside. This is not necessary of course, I could probably just plant cloves in the spring, but I think this gives it a little more strength. Plus, it gives me some dirt to sink my fingers into at this time of year.
To plant garlic (weather you are doing it this way, or straight into the ground), gently break the bulb apart. You want to break it into its individual cloves, without damaging them. If you have any cloves that are soft, don’t plant them. You want them to be firm, not squishy… Or hollow, or shrivelled. In the picture above, the whole bulb (which was small) was shrivelled and hollow. You don’t want that. The large bulb in the back of the photo is where the majority of the cloves I am planting came from. So basically, dispose of anything that doesn’t seem like it is going to grow… follow your instincts.
Once you have your cloves ready to go, make a little hole in the soil with your finger, and firm the clove in. You want them about an inch below the soil. Be sure to plant the root end down, and the growing tip up. By making a small hole with your finger and gently pressing the clove in, you are less likely to damage the root end. If your soil is nice and soft and loose, you could just gently press the clove in. The root end is what was holding the clove into the bulb. I like to use newspaper pots when starting things like this in the Spring. When it comes time to plant them, I can just put them straight into the ground, and the newspaper will compost in the soil eventually. You just need to make sure that none of the paper is sticking up above the soil level when you plant them outside, as this will act like a wick, and the whole area around the newspaper will be much dryer than you intend.
Do you plan to grow garlic this year? Have you had any luck growing garlic in a container? Some of these may be destined for a container if I run out of space, and any tips would be helpful.