If you haven’t tried growing garlic, you are missing out! It is one of the easiest crops to grow and harvest.
Types of Garlic
There are two types of garlic depending on your hardiness zones, softneck and hardneck.
Softneck garlic is hardy for zones three and up. The grocery store sells this garlic due to its longer storage capability than the hardneck variety. The cloves on softneck garlic tend to be smaller but more in number.
Some softneck garlic varieties are California Early, Inchelium Red, Lorz Italian, Nootka Rose Silverskin, Silver Rose, and Silverwhite Silverskin. Artichoke and silverskin are subgroups of softneck garlic.
Artichoke softneck garlic, like the California Early and the Inchelium Red, has many layers of cloves. Their skins resemble paper and can range in colors from whites to reds. The artichoke variety of garlic is in storage for about ten months.
Silverskin garlic is the type of garlic you typically see braided. It has excellent storage capacity, up to one year. This softneck boasts many cloves per bulb.
Hardneck varieties do better in zones six and colder. They prefer the freezing temperatures of the northern regions.
A few varieties, German Extra Hardy, Chesnok Red, Music, and Spanish Roja, will grow in zone 7. Other popular types are German, White, and Red Russian.
The cloves of hardneck garlic are usually larger than the softneck variety, but there aren’t as many in one bulb.
Hardneck garlic also produces scapes. These are seed stalks that grow in the center of the cloves, and removing them increases the plant’s energy in the roots.
Once scapes start to grow taller than the rest of the plant, gardeners cut as close to the ground as possible without cutting other leaves. These scapes are used in many different dishes to add a nice garlic flavor.
There are eight families of hardneck garlic, Purple Stripe, Marbled Purple Stripe, Glazed Purple Stripe, Porcelain, Rocambole, Asiatic, Creole, and Turban.
Purple Stripe garlic is the granddaddy of the garlic family. It is the oldest variety of garlic and is thought to be where all other garlic originated. Purple Stripe are grown in frigid temperatures.
Marbled Purple Stripe
Marbled Purple Stripe produces large bulbs but tends to bolt (produce scapes)early. Like the Purple Stripe, this subgroup loves the cold and thrives in the Northern regions.
Glazed Purple Stripe
The Glazed Purple Stripe varieties have metallic-looking skin. They, too, do best in cold temperatures.
Porcelain hardneck garlic is one of the most popular grown. It produces large bulbs and does well in warmer climates. Removing the scapes is essential in growing Porcelain garlic.
Rocambole garlic is known for its superior taste. They form scapes with tight loops and have some of the largest cloves of any garlic type.
Asiatic garlic has deep purple cloves. This type of garlic only produces 4-8 cloves per bulb.
Creole garlic was first cultivated in Spain and then spread worldwide. They have a suburb taste and red to deep purple cloves. This variety does well in the Southern regions as well as the north.
Turban garlic skins are decorated with purple stripes and splotches and produce large cloves with very few small inner cloves. This garlic doesn’t have a strong garlic flavor.
Planting and Growing Garlic
Plant garlic between late September and early November. If you use the square foot method, divide the raised beds into square foot sections. Plant nine cloves per square foot. Plant garlic 4-6″ apart if you are planting in rows.
The soil needs to be loose, so the cloves have room to grow and expand. Adding sand to your soil helps loosen the compactness of your bed. Be sure to amend your bed with compost and fertilizer before planting.
Plant the cloves 1 – 1 1/2 inches deep with the pointed end up. Cover with soil and about 5-8 inches of straw and water, and let the waiting game begin. It takes 7-8 months until garlic is ready to harvest.
Don’t forget to fertilize through the growing season. Fertilizing every other week is recommended.
As stated earlier, for hardneck varieties, harvesting the scapes is an integral part of the bulb’s growth. When the scape grows taller than the rest of the leaves on the garlic, cut off the scape.
Harvest hardneck when about half the leaves are brown and dead. The garlic leaves correspond to the number of layers of skin on the bulbs underground.
When the leaves are dead, the layers are dead too and start to deteriorate. If these bulbs are left unprotected in the soil, they begin to decompose.
Because softneck garlic is more durable, it can withstand staying in the ground longer than the hardneck variety. Harvest it when its leaves fall over.
Curing and Storing Garlic
Once harvested, garlic needs to cure or dry for 10-14 days. Brush dirt off bulbs, hang them in a barn or garage, or lay them on a rack off the ground. A wire rack provides the best air circulation for drying.
After curing, cut stems three inches above the bulb. Garlic stored at 30ºF – 32ºF with low humidity lasts longer than garlic stored at room temperature.
Airflow is vital in reducing mold and root growth. Do not store garlic in an airtight container.
Will you try growing garlic in your garden? Let us know what kind you choose.
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I’ve always loved gardening and recently started gardening full-time. I also enjoy tending to our chickens, dogs, and other family pets (a bird, a snake, and rabbits).