As we get out and about now selling our herbs a Farmer’s Markets and Garden Festivals, I am frequently asked if I have any garlic. When I ask questions to clarify just what the customer is looking for, I am surprised that they are looking for seedlings so that they can grow their own Garlic. How marvelous! Just one problem…
If you want to grow garlic in Texas you need to plant is in September, the same with strawberries- but that is a whole other blog and soapbox. Once planted in September, the bulbs will sprout and grow all winter long then in June or so, the tops will start to turn brown and it is time to harvest. Yes, no matter where you live garlic takes that long to grow. But, it is so worth it and it really is easy.
To get started, you will need something to plant- right? Garlic can be purchased in the store as a bulb. In that bulb are many cloves. Each clove when planted will produce another bulb and the cycle just keeps going. So, once you purchase your garlic you will not ever need to purchase more, just save some cloves from your harvest and you will be good to go. You can plant the garlic from the grocer or you can order from a seed company. If you order from a seed company you will know exactly what variety you are getting and in the supermarket you will have no idea. I have planted plenty from the grocer and did just fine.
The looser the ground, the better for growing garlic. However, I have grown in clay and done fine. Just dig a little whole twice as deep as the clove is long and plant the clove pointy end up. Then wait. You can inter plant with something like lettuce that has a shallow root system to make use of the open soil and double your harvest from the same square footage. For the best harvest, you will need to water- but no more than you would for any other crop.
You will know when to harvest by the fact that the stalks have bloomed and now are beginning to turn brown. Use a pitch fork or something similar to loosen the soil. Gently pull the garlic up. Spread the stalks on a dry and flat surface and let the cure (dry out a bit and the outer “paper” will dry). Garlic can by stored for the better part of the year easily meaning that if you plant enough you will never need to buy garlic again.