Editor’s note: This piece was originally published on the blog at Sow True Seeds. Find out more about the company at the end of the piece.
As we round the corner into the late summer we begin to turn our minds and garden beds towards the future harvests of cooler months or the far horizon of next summer. Garlic comes to mind as one of the most important plants that can be cultivated ‘in the space between’ our raucous garden seasons of high summer.
Planted in fall, garlic overwinters in the ground, growing throughout the fall and then stopping growth until the spring commences. Garlic is harvested in the summer when the leaves begin to yellow. Sow True Seed sells Elephant Garlic, hardneck and softneck varieties which you can choose based on your preference or needs.
If you grew garlic this past year it is drying somewhere nearby and you are enjoying the flavors of the variety you chose. Your own fresh garlic just doesn’t compare to the store bought stuff. Begin thinking about what you might like in a garlic for next year or you can buy our sampler pack which provides a 1/4 lb. of both a hardneck and softneck variety so you can have two varieties next year to choose from!
If you prefer a complex lingering flavor, great for roasting, try Chesnok, but if you like a spicier flavor, hardneck variety that lends itself to zesty salsas try German White. The softneck variety California Early provides a great garlic flavor and is an early maturing variety that does well in a variety of climates.
Garlic prefers a well drained soil with good fertility. A well amended plot that has a soft tilth will allow the bulbs to grow and spread. Plant the garlic before the cold temperatures of winter freeze the soil to allow it time to grow some roots before the hard winter sets in. Garlic should be planted 2-3 inches below the surface of the soil and 4 to 6 inches apart within rows. Put about 12 inches between rows. Plant the bulb flat end down and pointy end up!! Mulch thickly and in a few weeks you will see small leaves emerging from the mulch. Keep the garlic weed free through the winter and the shoots will begin growing again when the temperatures warm.
Once the plants are well established they will form scapes that make great pesto or can be used in salads or stir frys. By removing these scapes the plant can put energy into bulking up its bulbs. When you see half to two-thirds of the leaves have yellowed it is time to pull your garlic (usually June or July depending on your location). As leaves are yellowing, hold back on the water to prevent the possibility of root rot and to thicken the skins. You can wash the bulbs and dry them in a dry airy place for 3 to 4 weeks to cure. Long term storage conditions should have low humidity.
If you are growing garlic it is likely you have many a recipe that already uses this versatile Allium. In case you have not roasted it this way before it is a wonderful way to enjoy the complex flavors of various varieties.
Quick and easy roasted garlic recipe:
Cut the tips off an entire head of garlic. Drizzle with olive oil and wrap in foil. Bake at 350° until the cloves are soft and pulpy. Use as a spread on fresh bread or with crackers or raw vegetables.
Get garlic seeds:
Want to try an overwinter garlic? Find out how to get garlic seed here. Sow True Seeds encourages customers to pre-order garlic seed, as their supply is limited. The seeds will be shipped in September as soon as it’s available.
About Sow True Seeds:
Disclosure note: Sow True Seeds advertises with From Scratch. Just like all of our advertisers, they are carefully vetted to ensure they provide value to our readers and reflect our values as a publication. The reasons we have decided to partner with Sow True are: The company specializes in heirloom varieties, produces no GMO-seeds and is operated by individuals determined to honor people and the planet. Additionally — and this is no small thing for us at From Scratch — their seed catalog is beautiful.