Garlic

Garlic by Byron Chitwood.

The fall planting season is about over.  However, there is still time left to plant spinach, radishes, onion sets if you can find them and garlic.  Garlic is one of the easiest things to grow and a lot of it can be grown in small spaces.  Garlic can be grown the year around in mild climates like we have here in north central Texas.

Obtain some seed garlic which is garlic that has not been sprayed for prevention of sprouting.  Maybe you know of a friend that has some surplus garlic that he or she harvested from their garden.  If all else fails, select some at the food market.  I have had 80 to 90 percent germination from store bought garlic which makes me wonder if that garlic has been treated to prevent sprouting.  Each bud of garlic has from 8 to 18 cloves.  The individual cloves are what are planted to grow garlic.  It is possible to grow garlic from seed but almost all is grown from cloves.  Carefully break the buds apart into individual cloves.  Be careful to not damage the skin on the cloves.  Some of the literature recommends planting only the large cloves.  However, I use all the different size ones in a bud and have close to 100 % germination and they all seem to produce about the same size buds or bulbs regardless of the size of the original clove.

Plant the cloves with the large end down and the sharp end up.  They should be planted in 2-3 inch deep trenches with spacing between the cloves of about 4 to 6 inches and spacing of about 6 to 18 inches between rows.  If you are container gardening, use the four inch spacing between rows and cloves.  Garlic planted in the fall will grow through the winter and be ready to harvest in late spring of the following year. The tops will begin to turn yellow and droop over.  At that time, pull or carefully dig the garlic.  Some garlic growers braid the tops of eight or ten pants together and hang them to dry in a warm and dry place.    They can also be stored if they are left in the ground until the tops are almost dry.  Harvest them in the same way and lay the individual plants out to dry.  Then cut the tops off and store the bulbs or buds in an uncovered cardboard box or tray with the root end down.  I don’t know if storing with the root end down does anything for the garlic, but it looks pretty that way,

Garlic has been around for a long time.  There is evidence that it was a staple in the diet of the pyramid builders and other cultures thousands of years ago.  The Chinese are the largest producer of garlic in the world.  Their production is on the order of 24 billion pounds which would amount to about 20 pounds per year consumption for every man, woman and child in China. The United States only produces a paltry 442 million pounds per year which would equate to 1.4 pounds per year per person.

If you watch the cooking shows on TV, modern chefs are putting garlic in everything except fruit salad and ice cream.  I don’t have enough space to go into all the old wives tales about all the ailments that garlic cures so I guess I’ll just go and plant some more garlic.

About stephaniesuesansmith

Stephanie Suesan Smith mainly uses her Ph.D. in clinical psychology to train her dogs. She is also a master gardener, member of the Garden Writer’s Association, and woodworker. Stephanie writes on almost any nonfiction topic and has had some unusual experiences that contribute to that ability. Getting pooped on by a rattlesnake probably ranks tops there, but things just seem to happen to her. View more of them at www.stephaniesuesansmith.com. View her photos at photos.stephaniesuesansmith.com.
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