Grow Your Own Garlic

The Cutting Veg loves to support gardeners and farmers to grow their own garlic crops. Growing Garlic is a relatively simple process, and incredibly rewarding. It is important to be aware that there are a lot of disease problems with some seed garlic in Ontario. When purchasing garlic for seed, be sure to ask the farmer if their garlic is “Stem and Bulb Nematode Free.” Or, you can purchase your seed garlic through The Cutting Veg (we have no disease issues).

Farmers and gardeners looking for some advice on starting or adding to their garlic crop can contact Daniel at daniel@thecuttingveg.com, or 647-388-7444. Please see below for the basic steps for growing your own garlic.

Planting

We plant garlic in Mid-October, in Southern Ontario. Prepare the soil by integrating lots of organic matter (compost or manure is ideal), a couple weeks before planting. Plant individual cloves approximately 6 inches apart, with the pointy end up. The larger the clove, the deeper it should be planted, but in general 3-4 inches is plenty deep.

Mulching

After completing planting all your cloves, you want to cover the soil with a thick layer of mulch. Straw is ideal, but leaves will do just fine. (Be aware that leaves can form an impenetrable mat, and so need to be shuffled in the spring in order to allow the garlic stem to break through.) The mulch will perform several functions. It will keep the garlic insulated over the winter, keep moisture in the soil during dry periods, keep weeds down, and eventually break down to provide nutrition for the soil. Don’t hesitate to mulch thickly (several inches), as garlic is resilient and will generally make its way through the mulch in the spring.

Weeding

Depending how thickly you mulched and how much you planted, you may have weeds in the spring. One thorough weeding in May/June should be enough for the entire season.

Scaping

Sometime in the late spring, the garlic plant will start to grow a garlic scape. Garlic scapes are the flower/seed stalk that shoots up from the garlic bulb. It is important to harvest the garlic scapes, as this will allow the plant to focus its energy on producing a big, healthy bulb, rather than the flower/seed pod. Harvest the scape when it begins the process of curling, simply by snapping it off with your hands. Then, cook with your scapes in any manner you would use regular garlic. (See Garlic Recipes for delicious Garlic Scape Pesto recipe)

Harvesting

Garlic is generally ready to harvest in late July, or early August, depending on the variety. When approximately half the leaves of the garlic plant have browned, this is a good time to harvest. Harvest simply by using two hands to pull on the stalk to bring the bulb forth from underground.

Curing Garlic

Garlic will store best if it goes through a curing process. To cure, brush most of the dirt off the bulbs and hang the garlic by its stalks, in bunches of 10-20. Specifically, wrap the bunch with twine and hang them in a dry location. In about 3-4 weeks, the curing process will be complete, and you can cut away the stalks.

Final Notes

Garlic needs to be stored in a cool place away from direct sunlight. Storing in paper bags in the kitchen cupboard works well. Also, in most locations in Canada, no watering is required throughout the 9-month growing process when sufficient mulch is used. The fall/winter/spring precipitation will provide all the necessary moisture.


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