If you know me, you’ll know that I try to provide healthy food for my family. While it was available to us, we were a part of an Organic Food Co-op during our years of living in Central New York. It was wonderful to get fresh, local, organic produce! I do try to buy organic when possible (and not outrageously expensive). My garden is one way I can provide fresh, healthy food for us. I have to admit that I also try to encourage those around me to make healthy choices and choose organic when possible! Along those lines, one item that I would encourage you to grow is garlic. Do you know where your garlic comes from??? All I am going to say is that the healthiest garlic is sourced locally, and organically. The best part is that garlic is very, very easy to grow!
Like my stony soil? There is a never ending supply of tiny stones in our soil! Doesn’t seem to bother the vegetables, thankfully. … Back to the topic of Garlic! This year I planted my garlic in November. I first posted about it here: http://mominthegarden.wordpress.com/2013/11/08/fall-plantings-of-green-manure-its-just-rye-organic-vallelado-garlic/ The variety I received from a very helpful organic center called Fruit Hill Farm in Cork http://www.fruithillfarm.com/ was Vallelado, which is good for our Irish weather.
It was almost daily that I’d wander into the garden to see if the garlic was growing. I wasn’t quite convinced it would grow in such cold weather! But grow it did. Actually, I learned that garlic needs 6 weeks of cold weather (below 10 degrees Celsius or 50 degrees Fahrenheit) for the bulb to split into individual cloves. Cold is good! And some of you might be laughing and thinking “that isn’t cold”!
Here is the lowdown on growing garlic:
- Source your garlic from an organic center near you. They should have varieties suited to your climate.
- Garlic needs full sun and well drained soil. It does best with soil that has compost worked in.
- Space the cloves at least six inches apart. Place the cloves in the soil 3-4 cm (1 & 1/2 inches) below the surface with the pointy end facing up.
- Keep the garlic moist until about a month before harvesting.
- Weed regularly. Garlic like mulch. Mulch will keep the weeds down and is especially helpful in colder climates.
- Harvest when the stems go yellow. Waiting for the stems to fall is too late! It’s better to have dry bulbs at that stage, hence the stepping back from watering those last few weeks. Dig gently around the bulb, shaking off any excess soil.
- Keep the stems on to help keep the garlic fresh. These can be braided, too, to hang the garlic in an open airy place. Dry outdoors if the weather is good, or inside if weather is wet.
According to Anne Gibson http://themicrogardener.com/5-step-guide-to-growing-gorgeous-garlic/ garlic shouldn’t be grown near peas or beans. Do any of you have experience with that??? On the flip side (companion planting), as they are part of the Allium family they do well with raspberries, beetroot, strawberries, tomatoes, lettuce, & roses.
The garlic has given some life to the garden over the winter, which is so nice to see. I know I haven’t harvested yet, but based on everything so far I would definitely plant in November again and keep it as my winter crop.
Easy, right? If you don’t grow it already, I do hope you’ll give it a try! Or the next best thing would be to buy from your local organic farmer :-)
Here’s to living a healthy lifestyle!