Garlic is a wonderful addition to your diet. It not only adds a wonderful flavor to your foods, it is SO good for you. You can buy your garlic at the store, but even the organic garlic is usually from China. Look at the garlic you buy, you may be surprised. I have not found any in the store that was not from China. I don’t feel good about eating anything that comes from China. There have been too many horror stories.
Garlic is really very easy to grow and does not require much. Unlike most things grown here in Ohio, you plant garlic in October and harvest in June or July. You get bulbs of garlic that look just like what you buy in the store. There are many varieties of garlic. Each has its own unique flavor and level of heat. You can order them online or save some of yours to plant in the Fall. You break apart the bulb into the separate cloves. You do not have to peel the cloves. You plant them about 2″ deep and about 6″ or more apart. Then you cover the area with a thick layer of straw or mulch of some sort. You are done until Spring. They may start to come up a bit before the snow flies and it gets cold, but that is OK.
In the Spring the garlic is one of the first things that comes up in my garden. My asparagus comes up pretty early as well. I took this picture today. It is already up this far.
These next pictures are from other years. The garlic gets pretty tall. It gets something called a scape. I can’t find a picture I have taken of scapes. I was going to post a picture from the internet, but it is hard to tell what are free pictures to use. A scape is basically a long shoot that comes up out of the middle of the plant. It gets a bulb at the end. If they are left, it becomes a flower of sorts and then when the flowering part dies, you get seeds. You can leave some if you like, but I always pull mine off before they flower. If left on the plant, it puts a lot more effort into forming the flower and you get a smaller garlic bulb in the ground. When I pick off the scapes, we cut them up and use them in food or I have even pickled them. I did find this picture of some that I had picked off.
The tops of the leaves start to turn brown. When the whole outside set of leaves and part of the second set turn brown, we pull a couple up to check them. If they look like they are ready, then we pull them.
You can see we were not too good at weeding. 🙂
We knock all the dirt off that we can and put them in bundles of 10 to 12 and tie them together. We then hang them in the barn to dry. You want to hang them so they have air around them, but no rain or direct sunlight.
After they are well dried, we pull them down and go through them. We cut most of the roots off and also the greens. We leave a wee bit of stem and and as many layers of skin as we can. The more layers there are, the better. However, sometimes they are a bit gross and we peel a layer or two off. They they are ready to use or store. The man I get my planting garlic from said the best way to keep garlic is in a paper bag in the produce drawer of your refrigerator. We take most of our bulbs and separate them out into cloves. We peel them and then slice them. We then dehydrate the slices (we find they keep better as slices) and store them in a jar. We will take a handful or two of slices and put them in the blender. We make our own garlic powder. You have not tasted garlic powder until you have tasted fresh. We keep some in a salt shaker on our table. Even the children who eat here love and ask for that shaker of garlic. We put it on everything. It is so good. Don’t put too much in your shaker though, especially in the summer. The moister hits it and it gets hard. You can still use it, but not in the shaker.
I will try to take more pictures of the process this year and label them. 🙂