Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Harvesting and planting garlic

Last fall I goofed up: I didn't plant my garlic.

Can't really tell you why except we were busy and I just never got around to it. The garlic I harvested just sat in a crate by the front door all winter long, and we grabbed a few cloves for cooking whenever we needed some.

By spring, needless to say, much of the garlic that wasn't rotten had started to grow. In separating the good garlic from the bad at this point, I shrugged my shoulders and thought, what the heck, I'll just plant the good stuff and see what happens. (Garlic should be planted in the fall, not spring.)

Well it kinda sorta grew. I pulled up the dried plants on August 23. This is a German "porcelain-neck" variety that has several large cloves around a stiff (or "porcelain") neck. It's got quite a bite to it, the way garlic ought to be.

Because I hadn't planted the garlic at the right time, the bulbs didn't grow very big or impressive, but at least they propagated themselves.

However I was determined not to repeat my lapse this year. Last week I dug up all the weeds in the garlic boat (yes, it's really a boat -- see this post for the origins -- originally we had strawberries in it) to get it ready for planting.

It was time to refresh the dirt with compost, so my next task was to pitchfork compost from the compost pile and wheelbarrow it over to the garden.

The compost was dark, rich, and absolutely chock-full of worms. Here's a cluster that got caught at the top of the pitchfork.

As usual, lots of help from the ladies.

I hauled about eight wheelbarrows of compost and pitched them onto the boat...

...and raked it until it was spread evenly.

I dug the compost in a bit, just turning the top couple of inches of dirt to mix a little.

Then I raked everything out until it was roughly even.

This is all the garlic I harvested in August. Pathetic isn't it?

But it will grow just fine. I laid individual cloves on the surface of the boat. I like to lay everything out before planting to make sure things are more or less evenly distributed.

After that it was fast work to poke a hole and shove a clove about an inch deep. Altogether I fit 142 cloves into the boat.

The only thing left to do was mulch the boat with straw for the winter.

It took two sleds of straw to cover the boat. The straw should be fluffy, not compacted.

And that's it. The garlic is now done until it gets harvested next summer. I've had bumper crops in the past when I do things right, so I expect I'll be swimming in garlic by next August.


  1. Last fall was the first time I had ever planted garlic. It was a wonderful harvest and I made granulated garlic, garlic powder and ground some up for the freezer. I will plant it every year. So easy and cost/benefit is up there.

  2. I love fresh homemade garlic powder, it tastes so much better than the store-bought stuff. Can you can granulated garlic? I would think so... Also, I noticed your hen had a white earlobe. Is she an Icelandic?

  3. Oh nevermind about the chicken, I just noticed her earlobes are not actually white. She's very pretty though :)

  4. Old boats are just great. We have a "compost" boat.

    We plant about a 1,000 garlic cloves each year, but here in TN we plant it in November.

  5. Last fall, I decided to plant my hard neck garlic deeper than I usually do, four to six inches, then covered with 6 inches of shredded leaves. This years harvest had the largest bulbs I've ever had. They are going deep again this year. Who am I to question success?

  6. i planted my garlig alongside my strawberries. they are companion plants and like each other. my problem is that the berries over ran the garlic then i got side tracked about the time the garlic was suppose to be harvested. now i can't find it. bet it shows itself next spring

  7. Thi s will be my first time planting garlic and I am really excited to see how it will do! My collard and kale seedlings are looking good, so I am holding my breath for a successful crop!