The garlic plant (Allium sativum), which produces a bulb, is a member of the lily family, just like shallots, onions, and chives. To learn more about garlic, check out this article on Wikipedia.
Here in New England, the best time to plant is around October/November, before the hard frost sets in. In this article, I'm going to demonstrate how easy it is to plant and grow your own garlic. Check it out...
***While the garlic cloves are soaking, prepare the garden bed for planting; making sure weeds are removed, soil is amended with compost, etc.***
By late spring/early summer, you will start to see scapes on the hardneck varieties. These can be cut off and cooked, as they have a light, garlicky flavor. There's a great pesto recipe on the Green Mountain Garlic website. Cutting off the scapes will also ensure that the plants energy gets diverted to growing the garlic head.
Once you've harvested your garlic, you will need to let them cure by placing them spread out in a cool, dry location for a few weeks to allow the heads and leaves to dry. Once cured, then you can trim the leaves off of the heads and store them in a cool, dry place (sense a theme here?)--I keep mine in netting bags that I've saved from potatoes and onions that were purchased at the store.
Softneck varieties can be braided and hung up in (you guessed it!) a cool. dry place for easy access to fresh garlic. Click here to learn how to braid garlic.
You may want to set aside a few heads for planting in the fall. Be sure to choose the largest heads, as the size of the garlic bulb determines the size of the plant.
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Until next time...