It’s always busy at my Bedford, New York farm. My outdoor grounds crew is working hard to complete our long list of autumn tasks – including planting our next crop of garlic.
Although garlic can be planted in the spring as soon as the ground can be worked, fall planting is recommended for most gardeners. This allows extra time for the bulbs to grow and become more flavorful for the summer harvest. Every year, we plant a big crop of garlic from Keene Organics, a family owned farm in Wisconsin that sells certified organic and naturally grown gourmet bulbs for both eating and planting. Garlic is great for cooking and very good for your health. It is well known to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and carries many antioxidant properties. Knowing that I also grow the garlic myself makes it even more special.
Enjoy these photos.
It’s always exciting to get a delivery from Keene Organics filled with a variety of garlic bulbs for my garden. I’ve been planting Keene Organics garlic for several years, and am always so pleased with their growth and taste. The garlic is one of the last crops we plant before winter. Some of the varieties we are planting include Chesnok Red, Russian Red, Romanian Red, Armenian, Georgian Fire, Leningrad, the big Elephant garlic, and many of the seed garlic types from this year’s crop.
When planting garlic, look for the largest most robust bulbs. The entire garlic is called a “head” or “knob.” And each small, individual segment of a garlic head is the garlic clove. Each head is carefully broken to separate all the cloves. For the best results, plant the largest cloves from each bulb and save the smaller ones for eating. These are two good cloves to plant.
Before planting, all the cloves are treated with a solution. To prepare it, Ryan first drops a scoop of baking soda into a bucket with a strainer.
This is fish emulsion, which is available at garden supply shops. The garlic cloves can be soaked in fish emulsion to give them a fertilizer boost and rid them of possible diseases, which could have been carried by the garlic.
Ryan adds the fish emulsion into the same container as the baking soda.
Next, Ryan adds water until the container is filled.
The cloves are dropped into the solution and kept submerged until they have absorbed enough of the mix.
And then the garlic is strained and left to dry for a few minutes.
Lastly, they are all sprayed with isopropyl or rubbing alcohol. This helps to sterilize the cloves. If you don’t have alcohol, you can also use hydrogen peroxide or vodka.
Once treated and dried, the cloves are all placed on baking sheets and carried out to the garden.
Garlic comes in various sizes. The Elephant Garlic is in the middle – the largest of these garlic varieties. Elephant garlic is actually a leek that resembles garlic in growing and in appearance. It has a very mild flavor. It is most commonly found in grocery stores.
We plant the garlic in a bed behind my main greenhouse. This bed has been cultivated and fertilized. Brian also placed each clove where it will be planted.
Doing this first creates straight, pretty rows, but it is also important to give each clove enough room to grow and develop. When planting multiple rows of garlic, be sure the rows are at least one-foot apart.
This is a dibber. The T-grip on the dibber allows the planter to apply enough pressure to create a consistent depth for each hole.
Using the dibber, Brian makes holes in each row – six inches apart.
Each hole is also about four inches deep.
Here is a single seed garlic. It is clear which end is the pointed end.
Brian plants each clove – each one pointed end faced up, and the root side faced down.
He gently pushes the clove to the bottom of the hole.
And then backfills with soil.
If the soil in the bed is well cultivated, this should be a fast and easy process. It took Brian less than an hour to plant all our garlic.
The stakes surround the area and remind passers-by that the bed is now planted – and no walking. The visible sprouts are from garlic that was planted a couple of weeks ago – the warm weather confused them and they started to grow through the soil. The garlic will tolerate some shade but prefers full sun. This crop will be ready to harvest mid-July to August. I can’t wait.