HOW TO PLANT AND GROW GARLIC

HOW TO PLANT GARLIC

The key is to plant the right type of garlic — either hardneck or softneck.

Hardnecks, do well in cold climates. They need several weeks of very cold temperatures to thrive. Softnecks, on the other hand, grow better in milder climates.

Softnecks also do not bolt, meaning they don't send up a scape and therefore don't have a stem in the middle of the bulb. Instead, there are more cloves throughout the bulb. Softnecks typically have a milder flavor and store longer, too.

Garlic can be planted into late fall and winter as long as the ground can be worked. It's the same timeframe as planting fall flower bulbs, such as tulips and daffodils.

Because there is a direct correlation between the size of the clove planted and the size of bulb that will develop from it, a simple rule to divvying cloves: "Eat the small; plant the large,"

Garlic likes loose, well-drained soil, with organic matter. Separate cloves in the bulbs, leaving the papery covering intact, and plant cloves, pointy-side up, about 3 to 4 inches deep, 6 inches apart, in rows spaced 12 to 16 inches.

Cover with another 2 inches of mulch, such as straw, leaves, or grass clippings. Some nine months later, bulbs will be ready to dig up when about half the leaves are brown, the other half still green.

Bundle and hang the entire plants in a shady and well-ventilated area to cure for a month. Then trim root ends, cut the bulbs from stalks and store in a cool and dry place, but don't refrigerate them.

"Garlic is always alive," Treat it like it is alive. Each piece of a garlic plant, from the bulbil (seed head on a scape) to the clove, is a host of a new plant and a clone of itself. Each piece is always wanting to grow. Treat it the way you would treat yourself, with low humidity and a comfortable temperature. Don't put it in the refrigerator. People don't realize it's a vegetable,not an herb."

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