During the fall season most of our gardening thoughts revolve around bringing in the harvest (at least here in the upper midwest). While there is much of that to be done, there is one very important crop that enjoys the cold winter months to do its best work.
Garlic is one of my favorite additions to almost all of my savory meals. It is also highly medicinal, great at fighting off winter colds and flu, so make sure to add extra to your chicken noodle soup. And we can't forget the most famous use - fighting off vampires.
But did you know that much of what is commercially available is shipped in from China and bleached to give it its pearly white exterior? Bleach has no place on my dinner plate. With garlic being such an easy crop to grow there is no need to buy chemically enhanced bulbs, and the best time to start is now!
I have heard mixed reports on when to start garlic. Some say 6 weeks before first frost. I have heard plant on Halloween and harvest on the 4th of July. And I see some sowing in the spring. I have done all three for various reason and I found the best time is when the weather turns consistently cooler, but before the ground is frozen. Planted too early and the bulb will sprout. Those leaves then froze off which took the plant longer to recover in the spring. Planted too late and the ground is hard to break up and roots probably won't set until spring. Timing it perfectly in our crazy Wisconsin weather is nearly impossible, but garlic is quite forgiving so no need to fret too much. Last year we planted in frozen ground, just before the first snowstorm of the season and we harvested a great crop in the summer.
Another great thing about growing garlic is you only need to buy the seed garlic once! I started with an organic variety pack from Peaceful Valley. They have a great variety and everything I have purchased from them has thrived. After your first harvest, pick out your biggest and best bulbs, and save them to plant in the fall. Plant in the same location year after year for best results. Your garlic will actually adapt to your soil and become better each year!
So, if you love garlic like I do, I highly suggest giving home grown a try. It is virtually fool proof and the results are leaps and bounds better than anything you will find at the store! Have you grown garlic in your garden or plan on trying it this fall? If so, drop in a comment or send me a picture. I love to hear from fellow garden enthusiast!
Until next time!