How to Grow Garlic

  Growing Garlic
To produce nice, large bulbs, garlic needs fertile soil with lots of nitrogen. The bulbs will gain their best form if the soil has a loose, light texture, and weeds are strictly controlled.

Separate your seed garlic into cloves, and plant each clove with the root end down, 1-2" deep and 4-6" apart. Set rows no closer than one foot apart.

When the leaves start growing in the spring, give the plants some fertilizer; side-dress with compost, or encourage leaf growth by applying foliar sprays of fish emulsion or seaweed. Keep the soil moist when it's growing new leaves quickly. Once the garlic stops putting out new leaves, bulbing has begun, and you should not fertilize it; you would waste fertilize and risk damaging the quality of the bulbs.

Garlic should be harvested at exactly the right time; if you dig the bulbs too soon, you will give away size, and the skins may not have formed. However, if you wait too long, you will risk tearing the outer wrapper, damaging storage potential, and hardneck cloves may have started to spread apart in the soil. Begin checking your crop when the leaves start to brown and there are only 5-6 green leaves remaining.

Curing garlic is essential in order for it to store well. You need to dry the outer skin, while keeping the cloves plump with moisture. Don't wash garlic when you dig it; gently brush the soil from the roots, being careful not to tear the wrapper. Immediately remove your bulbs from direct sun. You need a hot, dry, dark, and well-ventilated spot to hang the garlic for a few weeks; make sure you have good air circulation in your drying area. After curing, you can trim the roots. Don't store garlic at temperatures below 40° F or it will sprout.

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