Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Planting garlic

When we first moved into our current home, it was late December of 2020. I had brought with me some garlic from our last home as a sentimental tribute. I'd cultivated that garlic for ten years, and it always yielded amazing harvests. My goal was to plant the garlic in our new place and carry on the line.

Alas, I had no proper place to plant it, and it was already getting late in the season anyway. Finally, in January 2021, I settled on planting it in a water tank left behind by the previous owners. The tank was filled with dirt and topped with bark ... or so I thought.

The yields the following year were disappointing, but I gamely replanted in the tank in hopes of simply propagating the garlic until I had proper garden beds. This year, the "harvest" was so bad I knew I couldn't continue that process.

Turns out the water tank wasn't filled with dirt and topped with bark. Rather, it was all bark. How did I not notice this? No wonder the garlic couldn't grow. Either way, my original garlic was ruined. Time to order some fresh stock.

After a bit of searching – a surprising number of places were sold out of the German porcelain-neck variety I prefer – I found a place called Mad River Garlic Growers in Ohio. I placed an order for one pound of German white hardneck garlic. This arrived on Oct 19. One pound turned out to be eight large heads, a generous amount.

I wasted no time getting it planted. However – of course – I didn't make the mistake of replanting it in the water tank. Instead, I distributed it among the strawberries, since those are the only two raised beds we have so far. I did some hasty research in advance to make sure garlic and strawberries aren't incompatible. (They're not best buddies, doncha know, but they'll do okay together).

I separated and peeled the cloves...

...then divided them into two piles, since I have two beds.

Each pile was then divided in half again, and I ranged the cloves along the bottom of each side of each strawberry bed, to space them while planting.

It took no time to actually plant them, spacing the cloves roughly evenly throughout the beds.

I also harvested the last of the season's strawberries. The weather has turned, and I seriously doubt any remaining green strawberries will ripen.

Let's hope this new garlic proves to be as incredibly abundant as the garlic in our last garden.


  1. When I ordered some garlic, I went ahead and peeled it and about halfway through I thought about reading the directions, and they stated not to peel them. So what is best, peel or no peel?

    1. I've planted peeled garlic for years without a problem. I suspect it doesn't make much difference.

      - Patrice

  2. Actually I read somewhere that by planting garlic next to the strawberries it will deter the birds and other pests from munching the strawberries. I also plant garlic with my roses to keep the Asian beatles at bay it works.

  3. I read that planting garlic next to your strawberries deters the pests and birds. I also planted garlic with my rose bushes this year as it keeps the Asian Beatles at bay, it works.

  4. I hope so. I'm sort of jealous of yall,'s gardening weather and location.
    It takes a while of serious cold weather to kill off a lot of bugs. We've had a bumper crop of all sorts of buggy boogers this year. I finally got tired of all the pickin off multiple times a day and finally broke out the hand vac. For example, millipedes. Ugh! They congregate in piles, climb all over the house, invade anything and everything!
    The hand vac and a daily 5gal bucket of sudsy water was a game changer. I swept up the piles and deposited into the bucket and chased all escapees down with the hand vac. Daily, and sometimes multiple times a day. It worked. It interrupted the massive reproductive cycle. So hopefully the hand vac lives on and doesn't have to be replaced anytime soon from outdoor use. Because from now on it's a required gardening tool.
    Your pictures and constant gardening efforts help to keep me from giving up!

  5. I get my garlic from Keene Garlic and this year I read a blog on their web site and they showed the difference they found that soaking their garlic in a fertilizer solution for at least a few hours or over night made in the yield and size of their garlic. It is pretty impressive so I did that this year. I used an organic fish/kelp fertilizer. We'll see how that works when I dig them up next year.

  6. I have missed all of your garden posts. I hope you get further set up this year so you can tantalize us with your garden.

  7. I put mine in a couple weeks ago. Mostly I grow the Music variety of hardneck that was developed just north of here at MSU. I like their huge, pungent cloves. I don't peel them, though. I was told peeling them makes them more likely to rot. Have you ever had that problem?

  8. Hi, Patrice — longtime reader here with an off-topic question for you, if I may? I just read your article in BHM about potatoes, which brought it to mind again. Back in spring of 2020, I pressure canned some Kennebec potato chunks left over from 2019 harvest. I’d never done potatoes before, but I consulted my Blue Ball guide and also Jackie Clay’s book, and the jars all sealed just fine. Unfortunately, I chose to disregard the instruction to fill the jars with boiled water, since I had lots of the water left from parboiling the potatoes (and there must be lots of nutrition in that, right??). And, of course, the liquid in the jars is cloudy from the potato starch. I now feel uneasy about this whether the potatoes are safe to use (I have not used any yet). Should I discard them? Thanks for whatever wisdom you can offer.
    Pauline in Upstate NY

    1. As long as the jars sealed properly and you followed the correct processing time/pressure, don't worry about the cloudy water. The recommendation to use fresh water (rather than the cook water) is purely aesthetic and has no bearing on the quality or safety of the potatoes. Bon app├ętit!

      – Patrice

    2. Thanks,Patrice! Home fries coming on the menu soon!