Growing healthy garlic is not a time consuming exercise. Amazingly, the original Caramel and Parsley article "Grow Your Own Organic Garlic" was written in 2011 and not a lot has changed since then. But seeing it is a while ago thought it was time for an update. A decade later "Red Russian" Garlic is still our #1 choice which I continue to grow for its continued quality and success. A major difference now is I devote more garden space to growing garlic so that I have enough cloves to plant in the Fall for the following year. Also this variety is perfect for our climate and conditions. What more could you ask for . . . Enjoy
A Few Tips for Growing Garlic at Home
- Where: Most of our vegetable gardens are four 4' x 4' and one new 8' x 4' which allows the rotation of the main crops grown i.e. garlic, tomatoes and kale. I also grow the latter two interspersed throughout the flower beds. Our summer this year in the 8' x 4' raised bed was a success with about 200 garlic planted, harvested and dried
- When: In our area I always try to plant the garlic cloves around the end of October each year, as long as the previous vegetables are harvested. This year (2023) half the garlic cloves have been planted a month early (October 1) and the other 100 will be planted before the end of October.
- Why: This is a perfect time to plant as all going well the garlic crop is ready for harvest in mid July / August the next year when the weather is dry and warm
- How: I like growing in raised beds as garlic does not like to be growing in moist soil and raised beds are perfect for controlling watering, etc.
- Notes: 1. I started growing extra garlic some years ago so that there was enough garlic to provide for the next year as (now for example) some of the growers have sold out. 2. Saving my own garlic I can also choose the size of bulb and cloves that suits our requirements. 3. Also no chemicals are used on the vegetable and fruit gardens 4. A little math may be needed to estimate the number of garlic cloves to be planted each year. Red Russian garlic can have from 2 to 8 cloves per bulb so take this into consideration
Planting Your Garlic (in a raised bed)
1. Soil Preparation:
- This is short but important in as much as potatoes were grown in the previous years garlic bed and compost and soil were mixed 50 / 50 for the next bed. I am a big fan of "mulching" thanks to the "Queen of Mulch" Ruth Stout With a straw mulch of course.
- An excellent reason to mulch is that it saves water both from evaporation and over watering. Here are '8 Reasons to Mulch Your Garden(s)"
- At the present time we have three large composts (a bear sat on the 4th) The composted soil from these are added to all the gardens continuously.
2. Planting Garlic Cloves
- Using the raised beds is easy ...
- Simply with square foot gardening I plant nine (9) cloves per square foot which is approximately 4" apart which has been working well
- In the raised bed the garlic is planted a little deeper - with the pointy end UP of course. Usually plant 3 to 4" deep
- In this region the garlic is almost always showing a few inches of green stem before winter or the first snow flies. If not already done, this is when I mulch with straw (or more straw as the case may be.
3. Growing & Harvesting (drying)
- Growing: A mulch is used on the raised beds while growing. Red Russian garlic grows "scapes" which are good to eat in stir fries and many other dishes. Cut these at the stem as this sends more energy to the bulb
- Harvest: 1. When the bottom few leaves are brown it is time to harvest. 2. I usually pull (after carefully loosening the soil with a fork) to verify. 3.Dig and pull the plants and keep out of sun overnight in a shaded & covered area. 4. The next day cut off the stem approximately 2 - 3 inches from the top of the bulb and also cut the roots (see photos) 5. The bulbs were laid in a single layer in plastic planting trays and in a dry place for two weeks before moving to permanent storage. Check on your garlic from time to time.
- Reminders: Best to harvest after a few days of warm sunshine. There is no need to wash the bulbs but do when eating the bulbs. Also storing in a fridge or a very warm area may cause problems.
Hoping this article helps you both economically and from a health perspective. The fresh organic garlic is always a special treat which we eat just about every day. Sincerely hope you also consider starting a veggie garden of your own. There are many "how to" in the Garden category @CaramelParsley.
Happy gardening ~ Liz
"Garlic - Allium sativum
Garlic should be a staple of every organic garden.
Cloves of garlic are great for season all kinds of foods ... for roasting & eating whole"
~ Rodale's "Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening"
Links & References:
- "Anti-Cancer Potential of Homemade Fresh Garlic Extract Is Related to Increased Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress" (2018) Nat'l Library of Medicine
- Garlic harvest, Curing and Storage from Uni Mass Amherst
- Reference: "The Self Sufficient Gardener" by John Seymour
- Roast Garlic & Potato Soup - Super delicious and nutritious Caramel and Parsley Recipe
Organic Garlic Soap Spray for Slugs Bugs & Other Garden Pests
This is what I am personally using in the garden today: insects can be devastating especially if you have lots of places for the bugs to hide. Here we go with My Slug Bug Spray:
- I make a very heavy garlic solution these days
- I use at least 4 garlic cloves (cheap import) - and liquefy in blender in one cup of water
- Let sit overnight
- Strain through cheese cloth next day
- Then I add & mix 1 Tablespoon Dawn liquid soap and another 2 to 3 cups of water depending on how strong you want it.
- This gives you about 4 total cups of liquid in a spray bottle
- I have used this strength solution this Spring a lot on the new kale, cuke and lettuce transplants
- ... and with lots of (daily!) rain this Spring you have to spray more often.
- ... also remember to spray underside of leaves
- ... I use small garlic bulbs and lower stalks of plants which have re-sprouted this year. It makes a green liquid so you cannot mistake it for anything else. Always label (and date?) your spray bottles. Good luck!