Garlic is one of the oldest herbs on record. It is easy to grow and is a powerhouse of vitamins, protein and in addition to other health boosters, helps to lower high blood pressure. Growing this beneficial herb is wonderful as you can use it at every stage of growth. The mild green leaves in the spring can be used in stir-fries, soups or risottos, the scape (or flower stalk) can be added to butter or pesto and finally the lovely white bulb in mid-summer which we find has a sweeter taste than store-bought garlic.
Garlic can be divided into two different categories; soft and hard-neck varieties.
Soft neck Garlic: does not often produce scapes but has flexible stems great for braiding
German Hard neck Garlic: produces delicious curled scapes in early summer
Elephant Garlic: a large, mild-flavoured bulb
– garlic bulbs are available for planting in the fall with the other tulip and daffodils (purchase early, as they sell out fast!!)
– planting is done in the fall so that the roots have a chance to develop, before the ground freezes
– break the bulb apart into cloves, the larger ones will grow into a good sized bulb by mid-summer the following year
– plant garlic in rows, 4-6″ apart in loose soil with lots of compost and organic matter
– bury the tips about 2″ deep
– cover the cloves with loose soil and a layer of mulch
– in mid-summer, when the soil is dry and the bottom leaves have turned brown, use a digging fork to loosen the soil before pulling them out
– lay the plants out in a dry, warm, airy spot and after a week, brush the soil off and clip the roots
– after another week, braid the soft neck garlic and trim the hard neck variety
– keep garlic bulbs in a cool spot with moderate humidity, good air circulation, in the light but not direct sunlight (no fridge or plastic bags)
– leave some soil on the bulb to lengthen the storage life
Be sure to stop by the Dufferin Garden Centre and pick up your garlic…they are one of our most popular bulbs in the fall!