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Posted On September 28, 2018 By In Home & Garden, Regulars With 157 Views

West Coast Gardener – The Art of Growing Garlic

by Matt Hall, Red Feather Horticulture – 

Even though the growing season is drawing to a close, there is always plenty of gardening work to be done in the fall. Having gardened through the spring and summer, I find that most of these jobs have become chores to me. That said, there is one task that never fails to excite and that is planting my favorite crop: garlic. Here are some tips to help you grow armfuls of garlic in 2019.

Choosing. If you’re starting from scratch, you’ll probably need to buy a few heads from a garden centre unless you can mooch some off another gardener. When it comes down to picking, choose large heads with many, large cloves that are firm and have no sign of rot or mold. Each clove will become a head next year and the larger the clove, the larger the head it will become.

Planting. The planting window for garlic is late September to the end of November. The perfect spot should be in a sunny location and needs to be in rich, well-draining soil. Stir in lots of well-degraded compost or manure before planting. Sow garlic by breaking the cloves apart (don’t skin them) and discard any of the undersized cloves and plant them (pointy end up) two inches deep and four to six inches apart.

Growing. Ideally, your soil should be rich enough from the compost added in the fall that the plants won’t need too much fertilization. I usually do several foliar feeds of kelp or fish fertilizer (3-1-1) just to give them a boost from sprouting to flowering. When the garlic begins to flower, I trim off the flower (or scape) just after it loops over itself. Don’t discard them as these scapes are great in a stir-fry and they also make a mean pesto. In late June, when the plants are starting to yellow and look tired, stop watering to help the bulbs mature for harvest.

Harvesting. Once the garlic plants are almost entirely yellowed or fallen over (if soft-necked), you can harvest your garlic. The space that your garlic occupied is now perfect for starting some winter veggies in as you don’t want to grow garlic (or onions) in the same space year after year.

Storing. Freshly harvested garlic has to be cured for two to three weeks. This can be done by hanging or laying the bulbs out. Both methods work well as long the spot is dark, cool and dry. Once cured the garlic can be cut off the stem and is ready to eat. If stored well, your garlic will be perfectly edible well into next summer. Don’t forget to hold back some of your heads for next year!

If you need any advice for your garden, don’t hesitate to drop me a line at matt@redfeatherhorticulture.com.

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