Garlic sprouts in springtime – so exciting to see proof of plant life at the beginning of the season!
Expecting failure, my first go at growing garlic yielded a decent crop of modestly sized bulbs so I was enormously encouraged. This year I put a bit more effort into it and was rewarded with a more than satisfying crop.
young bulbs – early summer
Out of all the vegetables I’ve grown, I’m not sure why I’m so delighted by garlic, but I am. Maybe it’s because it’s a root crop and you only really know how successful your crop is when you pull it up in August. Or unlike other rootish sorts of vegetables, this one actually does fine in our hard-packed clay soil that blunts carrots and squeezes the life out of beets. Maybe it’s because it’s a year round kitchen staple in my house and I find it easier to use than salad greens which require a certain amount of tedious insect extraction, washing and drying before use. Or because, until recently, the choice of garlic in our local stores left much to be desired (local farmer’s markets are now bursting at the seams with locally grown garlic scapes in June and bundles of healthy looking bulbs in the late summer). Or maybe it’s just because I think, from top to bottom – curling scape to twisting root – it is a beautiful plant.
The August harvest – minus the few harvested early for home use and host gifts.
My biggest issue with garlic has been that it requires planting around October and I’m rotten at planning ahead – usually the garlic variety I want is sold out by the time I remember. While I can usually find a day here or there in the spring to prep beds and sow seeds, I’m often way too busy with work to get out in the garden in the fall, and am also no longer in the vegetable gardening sort of mood, and rain in the fall is uninviting, dismal, cold, and void of spring rain’s promise of coming greenery.
This time around, I prepped the beds extra carefully, put a good dose of food in the hole with every clove, fed them a few more times throughout the year and was rewarded with a bunch of nice juicy bulbs, every clove planted yielded a plant. This year I also left the spade out of it, pulling them or digging them up by hand so there were no gouges or damaged bulbs.
I’ll keep about a 1/3 of the crop, the biggest bulbs, back for next year’s seed, and the rest should ensure we don’t have to purchase horrible supermarket garlic for quite a few months.