The joy of garlic
Usually garlic is planted in the Fall, about 4-6 weeks before the ground freezes hard for winter. As a grower with a pretty big garden, I appreciate having an easy, end-of-season crop to plant, that helps stagger some of my workload. Also, as one of the first things up in the Spring, garlic adds an early, beautiful green to my garden. And it’s dang healthy and tasty. What’s not to love?!?
Choose only the best and eat the rest
If you are using your own garlic stock, pick only the best bulbs to plant…those that are disease and mold-free, and the larger the better (assuming you want to eat them next year, otherwise, plant small ones, knowing you will have to replant them again next Fall to get a larger bulb). Also, as a proponent of local seed, if I have to buy some seed, I try to source local vs. buying the overseas garlic seed or garlic from the grocery store (though if you are in a pinch, the table variety will do), but again, seed adapted to our Maritime conditions will fare much better.
If you have don’t plant all of your garlic and have some left over, you can store it and eat it over the winter. I roast most of my small cloves, tp avoid having to peel them. I just throw them on a baking sheet with a tiny bit of oil and put them in the oven at 350 degrees for about a 1/2 hr. You can squeeze out the roasted insides onto crackers, or right into your mouth!
Make sure your site is well-drained and fertile. I usually add a bit of compost and sprinkle some crab meal right in with my cloves at the time of planting. Separate your garlic bulbs into individual cloves and plant about 2 1/2 – 3 inches deep. In-row spacing should be about 6-8 inches apart. Plant each row about a foot apart. Cover your cloves with soil and soon, they will start to developing their root systems in the cool Autumn temperatures. Once the ground really starts to cool down and frost is a daily event, cover your soil with about 4 inches of loose mulch (straw best vs. hay, as hay will tend to have a lot of grass seed in it). This will provide about a blanket for winter protection.
Planting notes “borrowed” from Hope Seed http://www.hopeseed.com
By: Su Morin, Community Food Coordinator – Cumberland County, NS