Thursday, July 5, 2012

How the garlic grows (or doesn't)

Garlic is an interesting vegetable. In some ways it's incredibly easy to grow. Just grab a clove of the stuff you get at a supermarket or a farmers market, stick it in the ground, and see what happens. You may or may not want to peel away the papery covering first. You'll probably want to dig a whole a little deeper than the length of the garlic clove itself. And the pointy end should be pointed up.

In a few days, you'll start to see some greenery, and after a few weeks it will look something like this:

Then the waiting begins. Apparently it's best to plant garlic in the fall and harvest it the next spring or in early summer. This is my first year growing garlic, so I tried planting it in early spring, and the parts of the plant above ground looked pretty healthy.

I tried a mix of hard-neck and soft-neck garlic (once I realized that the soft-neck stuff I'd planted wouldn't give me garlic scapes I added some hard-neck cloves, because I love garlic scapes).

It's officially time to dig up the garlic when a couple of the lower leaves turn brown... but that's under ideal conditions. Things might be a little different in a rooftop garden with little shade and a lot of heat.

There wasn't much time between the first leaves dying and most of the plant dying for many of my garlic plants. Once I realized there wasn't really enough green stuff above ground to foster any serious growth, I went and dug up all the garlic I could find today.

It looks like a pretty nice haul... until you realize how small those dishes are. Here's what it looks like in the palm of my hand. 

I think that's more garlic than I started with, but not much. I'll try again this fall and see if letting the plants hang out through a winter makes them hardier in the spring and provides a larger yield.

What I did harvest smells wonderful, and once it's done drying out, I'm sure it'll taste great. But I think I might need to space the garlic out further and figure out the right mix of shade and sunshine next time.


Matthew said...

Brad did you end up giving this another go in the fall? If so how are things now that it's spring time/early summer?

Brad Linder said...

Hey Matthew. I've been pretty awful about updating the blog, but it turns out the garlic I planted in the fall is doing great. I think.

The green bits above the ground look very strong and healthy. But I won't know how the garlic is doing under the ground until I dig it up in a few weeks/months.

I'll try to post an update with new pictures soon.

The strawberries I planted last spring are also doing great this spring.

I also planted some leafy greens which are starting to come in strong, and some edamame and tomatoes... it's too soon to tell how those last two are going to turn out.

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