How to Grow Organic Garlic
With a history of human use of over 7,000 years, garlic is native to central Asia, and has long been a staple in the Mediterranean region, as well as a frequent seasoning in Asia, Africa, and Europe.
This hub will serve as a complete guide to planting, maintaining, and harvesting garlic.
Garlic plant profile:
Life cycle: Annual
Ease of care: Easy
Not native to North America
Height: 1 - 2 feet
Spread: 0.5 - 1 feet
Foliage color: Medium Green
Foliage Texture: Medium
How to plant:
Break bulbs apart into individual cloves at planting time, keeping husks on the individual cloves. Propagate by inserting a single clove of garlic, outer skin intact, 4 inches deep and 6 to 8 inches apart in rows 15 to 24 inches apart. - Cloves must be exposed to temperatures below 65 F or they may fail to form bulbs when planted. Plants are usually sterile, but they may flower.
Maintenance and care:
Garlic needs cool weather when developing foliage, and warm weather when bulbs mature. When planted in Fall, plants can take up to 8 months to mature to harvest.
A well-drained and weed free raised bed is ideal. Do not plant where other onion family crops have been grown in the past 3 years.
In New York, plant from about the time of first fall frost to early November. Fall plantings usually have the highest yields, but you can plant in early spring if your soil is loose and well-prepared.
Try to avoid using cloves from the supermarket, they're not ideal for planting as they may have been treated to discourage sprouting on store shelves, or may even carry disease. Purchase bulbs from mail order suppliers, garden center, or other local sources for best results.
To avoid soil heaving mulch heavily after planting - particularly with elephant garlic varieties. Even though growth may not be evident, roots will begin to grow throughout late fall and winter. Remove mulch in spring, leaving only what is needed to suppress weeds.
For larger garlic bulbs, remove woody flower stalks (scapes) as they appear. The bulbs at the top of the scapes can be used for cooking.
The larger the clove, the larger the bulb. Plant the larger bulbs for a greater harvest. Sell or use all but the biggest bulbs for next fall.
Expect few or no pest problems.
In heavy wet soils bulbs may rot. Otherwise, disease problems are rare. Avoid planting where other onion family crops have been grown within the last 3 years.
Garlic can be harvested with its long stem intact to produce a garlic braid upon drying, which may prove attractive to prospective buyers at the farmers market. Sell your whole garlic braids to specialty grocers that will pay a premium for the display piece.
As garlic lasts quite some time before rotting, one can sell whole garlic, or pickled garlic, online.
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