Garlic bouquet

From the garden
From the garden

We began harvesting our garlic this weekend, just as we were about out of the store-bought stuff from China (which is where most American garlic comes from, just usually not labeled as such).
What we learned this year: the scapes may look cool among the flowers, and the flowers that follow may be pretty too, but they definitely take energy away from the bulbs in the ground. We cut some scapes off a month ago, left others alone, and the difference in size is remarkable.
We’ll save the bigger bulbs for our next crop (planting time is in the fall) and will eat the smaller ones. If we have enough, we’ll learn how to dry out some of our garlic so it will stay fresh longer.
Do we know what kind we have? No. Some comes a colleague who belongs to a local organic CSA (think weekly box) and kindly gave us a spare bulb, and we planted it then. I bought three bulbs (I think) from an organic farmer at our local farmers’ market last fall and planted those. The key is that it’s organic and is right for your USDA zone.
Otherwise it couldn’t be easier: Plant cloves in the fall, around when the kids go back to school (so September, though one Web site claims it’s traditional to plant on the shortest day of the year, which would be December and another says it should be six weeks before the soil freezes), with the top of the cloves pointing up, about 1″ to 2″ into the ground, harvest after kids finish school, according to Mike McGrath, and the stalks are turning brown (later than the end of school this year). Just gently dig them out with a trowel.
We tried several locations in the sun, some in our raised beds, and we mulched them with leaf mold in the fall to protect them from the cold and snow (and to improve the soil around them–we don’t use extra fertilizer.) The biggest difference so far comes from whether we cut off those curlycue scapes and made garlic scape pesto with them, or let them be. Lesson learned: cut. We’ll definitely be making more pesto next summer.
Here’s a video I found on planting garlic.

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3 thoughts on “Garlic bouquet

    1. Why not try? Can’t hurt anything. I don’t think they’ll get as big as you hope, but you may also just enjoy the look of scapes and the flower part, which I think is called bulbis. Talk to vendors at your farmers market — maybe they can suggest a good variety.

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