Friday, July 2, 2010

Growing Great Garlic

If you've ever attended a workshop by our Regional Horiculture Educator, Steve Bogash, you've heard him say something along the lines of "any good foodie home grower must, as a minimum, grow tomatoes, basil and garlic." Tomatoes (duh!) and basil have been staples for years in my garden, but garlic required Fall planting and planning at a time of year that never seemed to fit in my schedule. I rectified that in the Fall of 2009, and planted my first ever crop of garlic. The Fates just demanded it. While perusing the Fall 2009 Territorial catalog, I noticed this entry for Inchelium Red. From the description:

Mid-season. Inchelium Red is a national taste-test winner in the softneck division. This mild flavored garlic is great baked and blended with mashed potatoes. This large, top-quality softneck was discovered on the Colville Indian Reservation in northern Washington. Stores very well for 6-9 months.
My partner's extended family members are registered Native Americans with the Colville Tribe, and some of the more remote relatives actually live in Inchelium, Washington. You can't fight that kind of serendipity, so I ordered a set and planted it in early October last year. I followed Steve's guidelines documented in his "Growing Great Garlic" fact sheet, which I can't find on-line - here's a PSU Fact Sheet, and this is the result, harvested earier today.
Spread out to dry
Result of an injudicious thrust of the spade
 (probably why the literature recommends a fork for harvesting)

Thanks also go to Evelyn and Bill D. for sharing with me, their practical advice and experience in growing great garlic.

UPDATE:  7/10/10 - drying in the sun is not the recommended practice.  A cool dry place is better.  Here's Buck's County Horticulture Educator Scott Guiser on Growing Great Garlic:
Post harvest care is important. I move my harvested garlic immediately to a shaded, well ventilated area to “cure”. Although many folks seem inclined to let it lay out in the hot sun, this is not the best approach. Since most of it is consumed by Christmas, no special storage is required. Most references say to store garlic at 55-65 degrees F and 50 % humidity. So a cool cellar, or similar space, will work very well.
 Shoulda read the Territorial Seed tips, too, which confirms this:
Growing great garlic is quite easy. Few pests bother garlic and with some basic guidelines, just about any home gardener can experience success. Garlic prefers a rich, well-drained soil and does not do well in dense soils with low fertility. Separate the cloves just prior to planting. Plant the cloves 4-6 inches apart, covering them with 1-2 inches of soil. Elephant garlic is planted 6-8 inches apart and covered with 4-6 inches of soil. In northern areas, garlic should be planted in October and in the South it’s planted from November through January. When spring growth begins, fertilize and water as needed. As harvest approaches, watering should be less frequent in order to avoid molding or staining the cloves. Cut off woody seed stems at the top leaf to redirect energy to the bulb. Harvest when at least 3 green leaves remain on the stem. Tie the plants in small bundles and dry in a cool, dark location. 

No comments:

Post a Comment