posted by tom
September 11, 2012
Garlic follows the Sun Cycle, that is it wants to be planted before the shortest day of the year, December 21, and is harvested after the longest day of the year June 21st. In our region we plant garlic after the last full moon in October. This year that is October 29th. Since it is late this year, anytime after October 20th should be fine.
Garlic likes full sun. Choose a location where it will get full sun and no standing water, as garlic does not like wet feet. Spacing is about 8 inches apart. We plant our rows 12 inches apart and 8 inch spacing in the row. As tall as the clove is, that is how much soil you want on top of the clove. If the clove is 1 inch tall, you plant the bottom of the clove 2 inches deep. Mulching your garlic is optional. Some growers like to put a thick layer of mulch over the area; at the farm here we do not.
If you wish to fertilize, lightly do so at the time of planting and again in early spring no later that April 15th.
If you are growing hard neck garlic, it will sprout a scape or flower head in May. As soon as it forms cut it so the plant doesn’t put its energy into the flower formation. The scape is excellent to cook with. Scape pesto is one of our favorite recopies. On June 22nd, garlic realizes its life is over because the day just got shorter. For the next 3 weeks the bulb will double in size every week until 1/3 of the leaves turn brown. Now it is time to harvest and place in a shady good air flow area to dry out and cure. About 4 weeks is the proper time.
Garlic likes desert conditions when growing. It likes full sun, 1 inch of water a week, but the water should come all at once and then let the garlic dry out completely, We did not start watering on the farm here until the second week in June. One of the problems we see for home gardeners is over watering.
This is the perfect time to taste the many varieties of garlic and choose what you would like to grow yourself. Recent figures show that 70% of the garlic sold in the U.S. comes from China and tends to be a middle of the road variety to appeal to the mass consumer market. We grow over 60 varieties of garlic and are still expanding our seed stock.