For gardeners who enjoy eating the “stinking rose” as well as garlic scapes (flower buds), there’s nothing quite like planting your own cloves of garlic. Furthermore, some of us avid connoisseurs enjoy experimenting with purchasing different varieties of garlic and seeing which types do best in our hardiness zones, soil type and microclimate growing conditions.
Here at Spiritwood, the 100-acre farm north of Quyon, Quebec (50 km northwest of Ottawa), that my husband and I own, we’ve been planting garlic for years in our organic, raised-bed veggie garden.
What varieties, you ask? We’ve discovered the best types for our sandy loam, well-composted soil are 'Music' and 'Red Russian'. And yes, we always save the best, chubbiest bulbs we’ve grown for next year’s planting. It's tough to do, but worthwhile!
Here are our ten-best tips for planting and harvesting garlic.
1. Cracking bulbs into cloves
Several cloves cluster together to form the garlic bulb. Cloves must be “cracked” (separated) from the bulb because you plant individual cloves, not the entire bulb. Important: don’t remove each clove’s protective, papery casing. Leave it on and intact. Note: Each clove has a pointed tip and a “foot” (flattened, circular, hard root end). Plant the chubbiest, best cloves (no blemishes, no mildew) “foot down.”
Photo by Eric Fletcher