Every summer when I see local farm stands advertising fresh garlic, I wonder why I didn’t grow any myself. It’s supposed to be easy. The thing is, I’ve been told to plant it in late fall, and I don’t typically plant anything but tulips that time of year, so I simply forget. This year, I managed to remember in time! Sadly, all of my efforts to find local garlic came up empty, and I ended up buying a few heads of garlic at the grocery store. I know that some garlic is treated with some chemical to delay it’s sprouting, so I’m just hoping that this is not that garlic. Whenever we buy it for cooking it certainly doesn’t seem like it has a problem sprouting. 😉
I’m not a garlic expert, so I’m not going to pretend I am and tell you just how to grow it. I will fill you in on what I did, according to what I gleaned from books and friends.*
I found an area among my herbs that was the perfect size (planting it in the middle of your regular garden is a bad idea when your dad’s favorite thing about gardening is hooking the plow up to the tractor and obliterating everything.), and using a potato fork I cleared all the weeds and roots and broke the soil up, since it hadn’t been tilled in a couple of years. Then, using the corner of a hoe -a la my grandpa- I scratched 3″ deep trenches about 4″ apart.
My foster siblings had all discovered me outdoors by this time, so with my directions they planted the cloves 3-4″ apart, sprinkled a light layer of dry cow manure over them, and pushed the loose soil back over the rows. Then we shook hay loosely over the rows to mulch (I know from other crops that a good layer of hay keep the ground warm, and the root vegetables keep growing, or at least keep from freezing, even with a foot of snow over them. Digging carrots in January, people. Think about it.) And that was it! I was really pleased that the kids all wanted to help, hopefully it’s just the beginning of an interest in gardening for them. And we shall see what my grocery-store garlic does over the winter months! Hopefully by spring I’ll see signs of life.
*Something that occurred to me recently is how our source of knowledge on every topic is becoming more and more reliant on the internet. I have two shelves full of gardening book, so this is completely silly. I’ve pledged to myself that when I have questions, I will check my books first. And if there’s time, I will also ask experienced friends; after all, a huge part of the pleasure in friendship is discussing things like that. The internet is an amazing and useful resource, but I want to keep my sense of ‘real life’ wide awake.