Wednesday, November 09, 2022

Garlic Plant Profile

Garlic Plant Profile

Garlic is an edible member of the onion family and one of the easiest plants to grow. Its region of origin is unclear, but it has been grown in Europe and the Mediterranean for thousands of years.

Hardneck garlic types (Allium sativum var. ophioscorodon) do best in the Mid-Atlantic where there’s a real winter and distinct four seasons. ‘Purple Stripe’, ‘German White’, and ‘Music’ are some reliable varieties.

Around the end of October, plant your seed garlic in well-draining soil in full sun. Insert the cloves root-side down (pointy-side up) about 6 inches apart on center, burying the tips about 2 inches down. Green shoots will come up in a few weeks; mulch around them with straw. Keep the bed weed-free so the garlic can develop a healthy root system.

Hardneck garlic will form curling scapes by mid-May. Cut them off and use in recipes as you would scallions or garlic. This will direct the plants energy into making a larger bulb, rather than flowering and forming seeds.

The bulbs are usually ready to harvest by the end of June when most of the lower leaves have browned. The upper ones can still look green. Be careful when harvesting garlic as those bulb heads are more delicate than they seem. Choose an overcast day when the soil is dry. Loosen the soil with a digging fork, inserting it well away from the heads, then lift them out of the ground gently and shake off any excess soil.

Let the whole plants dry in a single layer out of the sun, where it’s warm, but not too hot. When the outer skin turns papery after a couple weeks of curing, brush off as much dirt as possible and clip off the shaggy roots.

The ideal temperature for storing garlic is between 55 and 70 degrees F, with moderate humidity and good air circulation (in other words, not in plastic bags) and out of direct sunlight.

Garlic: You Can Grow That!

The video was produced by Washington Gardener Magazine as part of our Plant Profile series for Mid-Atlantic USA gardeners.

Audio and text by Kathy Jentz

Video and editing by Brandie Bland


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