Friday, October 13, 2023

Planting garlic

Last year, I ordered some German porcelain-neck garlic for planting. Because I had nowhere else to put it, I planted it among the strawberries.

It grew fine, even though it was harder than I thought it would be to lever a hole in the soil deep enough to plant the cloves. That's because the soil in these original two strawberry beds is very clay-y and hard. (The soil we're putting in our permanent garden beds is much more friable since it's amended with compost and sand.) This is one of the reasons I want to transplant all the strawberries into the permanent garden and dismantle these original beds.

I harvested the garlic in August. The individual cloves were large, but – as suspected – the heads were fairly small (at least compared to the garlic I used to harvest in our old garden). I think the soil was just too hard to permit larger growth.

We go through a fair bit of garlic in our household. Not only does Older Daughter use it generously in her cooking, but Don slices and eats a few cloves of fresh garlic each day with his midday meal as an aid to control blood pressure.

What this means is I need to grow a lot of garlic to meet all these needs, certainly more than the modest amount I harvested this year. In other words, it will probably take a couple more years of planting every clove to ramp up the harvest until there's enough surplus for fresh eating or preservation.

Even though the permanent garden area isn't fenced against deer yet, I knew I could plant the garlic without worrying about it. It won't sprout until spring, and we'll have the garden fenced by then.

I dug out a few weeds in the beds, and raked everything smooth.

Then I broke apart all the garlic heads into individual cloves...

...and grouped them in piles of ten for easy counting. I don't remember the exact number, but it was something like 195 cloves.

These I divvied into two bowls.

I spaced them in the garden beds before planting. Each bed comfortably fit the 97 or so cloves I had counted out (half the 195 cloves per bed).

Then it was time to plant. And oh my, what a difference between the strawberry beds' hard clay-y soil and these beds' lovely friable soil. It took no more than half an hour to get all 195-ish cloves planted.

Next step, mulch. A few days before, we had purchased a bale of straw for purposes of mulch. I draped an old shower curtain over it to keep any rain off until we were ready to use it.

I used this hay sled to move the straw into the garden.

It took just a few minutes to place a thick fluffy layer of straw over the garlic. This will pack down a bit with rain and snow and protect the baby garlic all winter.

I tucked the hay sled with the straw under the porch. It will stay dry there until it's needed in the spring.

It felt good to actually do some gardening.


  1. Tell me about eating raw garlic every day for blood pressure help. Or is it not raw? I assume it works or he wouldn't do it. Does Don take other meds for BP?

    1. He takes a very low dose of a BP medication, but since raw garlic is shown to help control blood pressure, he slices up a few cloves each day and adds it to his midday meal.

      - Patrice

  2. Wow! Ya'll have made a lot of progress getting those raised beds situated! And the garlic beds look great! I couldn't have gotten them all planted in just 30 minutes though, even with soft dirt. Can't do things very fast anymore, but I
    Do keep on keeping on!
    I love that hay sled. I have a smaller one, but it doesn't hold enough stuff that needs dragging around. Must look for the hay sled.
    Also, I've never heard of eating sliced garlic with meals. We in the south slice up sweet onions (vidalias), especially with peas and cornbread or greens and cornbread (collards or turnip greens) to eat raw with meals. Wonder if they do the same thing. They also marinate well with cucumbers in vinegar to go with meals. Onions don't always leave an aftertaste. That's why Vidalia onions are so popular. I'm going to try the garlic.

  3. I read a few years ago that deer and most rodents don't like garlic. I started letting a few of my garlic scapes grow into seed heads and just kick planted some of those seeds around my apple trees and berry plants.

    Fast forward two years. Very little over winter deer problems and I feel like Michael Garlic Seed :-)

    My Apple trees have done much better now that I plant guilds around them over the past three years. I don't spray and the apples are acceptable, just a few I donate to the chickens.

    Now if I can figure out how to keep voles from enjoying my gardens. I think they're Italian.

    Suggestions welcome.

  4. Where do you get your garlic? I've not been able to find anyplace that will ship direct into Idaho because of the agricultural import restrictions.

    1. Last year, I found some garlic at a place called Mad River Garlic Growers in Ohio ( I'm not sure if they have any inventory left this year, but it might be worth a try.

      - Patrice

    2. Thanks for the link..Their shipping info page has this:
      "We are unable to ship to Hawaii, Idaho, and some counties in Washington State due to allium import restrictions."

      I guess I need to keep looking.

    3. Huh. Those restrictions must be new, since I had no trouble ordering last year.

      - Patrice