Growing, Harvesting, And Storing Garlic

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Growing, Harvesting, And Storing Garlicimage – (CC0)

Garlic is a popular spice used to make a variety of dishes tastier. It has wonderful health benefits and can be dried to last for a long time. It is considered best to plant between November and April, however the crop will be bigger if you plant it earlier, in the Autumn.

There are 2 main varieties of garlic; the hardneck and the softneck. The hardneck type produces a flower stem – known as a ‘scape’, which can be cut and included in salads and stir fries. Softnecks are the standard garlics of commerce and they are easiest to grow in regions where the weather is mild. They store longer than hardnecks and they produce very small but strong-flavored cloves.

Choose an area that gets a lot of sun and dig the planting bed to a depth of at least 12 inches. Cover and then dig in a 1-inch thick layer of mature compost. Place the cloves into the ground 4 inches deep and 6 to 8 inches apart “the right way up” with their pointed ends up. Lastly, cover the planted area with 3 to 5 inches of organic mulch. Garlic is not very demanding, however it is vulnerable to being smothered by weeds so make sure you weed regularly. You only need to water your garlic during long dry spells.

The bulbs are ready when most of the lower leaves have browned. Using a garden fork, loosen the soil around the bulb before pulling, to make pulling them out easier. Be gentle with the harvested bulbs – hitting them on something would bruise and ruin them. Set the garlic in an airy, sunny spot for a day then move it into a covered and dry area to cure for about a week.

After the garlic has cured, gently remove any remaining dirt and use pruning shears or garden scissors to trim roots to a length of half an inch. Storage life varies with the garlic variety and with growing and storage conditions. The most ideal storage temperature is between 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Hardneck garlic varieties usually last six months and softneck garlic store for eight months or more.

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Growing, Harvesting, And Storing Garlic
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