Everyone loves garlic, and it’s a key ingredient that is constantly used in the kitchen. If you’ve found garlic to be pretty expensive at grocery stores lately, try growing your own! It’s surprisingly easy to grow and does its best in garden beds. So, why not try it out this weekend?
Garlic is available in two different forms—softneck and hardneck. Softneck varieties are the kind of garlic you typically see on store shelves. They can be stored for up to a year, and the stems stay soft and pliable after harvesting, making it possible to braid them together.
Hardneck varieties have a shorter storage life, but they’re suitable for growing in cold areas. They also have a stronger flavor than their softneck counterparts. Unlike softneck garlic, hardneck garlic produces edible flower stems called scapes, which can be harvested and cooked on their own.
Garlic is generally planted in the fall and harvested during the summer. They need a chilling period in order to grow properly. As long as you get the basics down, you’ll have a healthy crop of garlic by the time the weather warms up!
A couple of weeks before the first frost, locate a sunny, open spot in your garden with well-draining soil. Separate your garlic bulbs into individual cloves, planting each clove at least six inches apart.
When putting the cloves into the ground, make sure the pointed end is facing upward, with the tip of the clove peeking out above the soil. After planting, add mulch, using a mix of straw and fallen autumn leaves. This layer of mulch will help the garlic cloves stay warm over the winter.
Following mulching, your crop will need little maintenance. You can water it to moisten the soil, but later on, the snow and rain during the winter should be sufficient enough to keep the ground damp.
Once shoots start to emerge, shield your crop with a protective covering to prevent birds from reaching them. As the plants get larger, they will become less enticing to birds. Then, you can remove the protection.
If you plant a hardneck garlic variety, the scapes will appear in early summer. Cut them off so your plants can put more energy toward creating bigger bulbs.