Friday, September 18, 2009

Garlic Now!

Garlic is one of the great foods of the world. and one of the simplest to grow.  There is no excuse not to have garlic in your garden.  Now is the time to start planting.  You can continue to plant through October.  You can use the garlic from the grocery store if you have no choice, but they are sometimes treated to retard sprouting.  I would check some of the online sources of garlic and see if you can find some of the great varieties available.  There are hundreds of varieties, some hot, some not.  There are hardneck varieties and softneck types.  The softneck types are the ones used to create braids of garlic.
        Garlic likes a soil with good drainage.  The bulbs will rot if kept too wet.  If you have a heavy clay soil add lots of compost to loosen the soil and improve the drainage.  Every once in a while I add extra phosphate fertilizers.  Not every year, just if the quality of the garlic diminishes.  You can use Triple Super phosphate, bone meal or a fertilizer where the middle number is the largest.
Once you have loosened up the soil and added compost you can plant the garlic.  Separate the cloves of the garlic.  Do not plant the whole bulb!  Each clove will give you a new garlic bulb come spring.  Plant the cloves about three inches apart and deep. The bulbs will quickly send up leaves.  Once it gets really cold they will stop growing until it begins to warm up.
      One of the keys I have found for the best bulbs is to provide even watering throughout the winter.  Not sopping wet, but don't let the soil dry out for long periods.  In my experience, the best watering practices produced the best sized bulbs, regardless of how well you fertilize.
This is a great, nearly trouble-free plant.  Plant now and reap the benefits come spring.

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