Whether you’re considering
planting rows of giant elephant garlic (which yield 15,000
pounds per acre) or adding a few garlic plants to your flower
bed, one thing’s for sure: Garlic is easy to grow. Tolerant
of most soils and climates, it rarely succumbs to insects
Plant your garlic in a sunny location in
October (in the North) or from November through January
(in the warmer South). Remove any flower stalks in June
so that the bulbs receive all the plant’s energy.
As the leaves begin to dry, water very little, then dig
up the bulbs. Rinse off the soil quickly, cut the roots
close to the bulbs, and put the bulbs on flat screening
or in baskets in an airy place, out of direct sunlight,
to dry. After a day or two (but before the leaves become
brittle), you can braid your garlic. Hang in an airy, dry
place, always away from sunlight.
Some intriguing varieties to get your started:
- Rocambole (Subspecies ophioscorodon)
is a broad-leafed garlic that grows three- to four-feet
tall and produces coiled stalks with aerial clones. Each
bulb has six to 11 large, full-flavored, easily peeled
cloves, but their shelf life is more limited than other
kinds of garlic.
- Purple stripe (Subspecies ophioscorodon),
named for its purple-striped bulbs, makes the best choice
for baking. With eight to 12 tall, crescent-shaped cloves
in each bulb, this type of garlic also produces very attractive
coiled stalks and acts as a dual-purpose landscape plant.
Visitors to your garden will be shocked when you tell
them it's garlic.
- Porcelain garlic (Subspecies ophioscorodon)
is not very common, but an ever-increasing favorite. Its
small number of juicy, tangysweet cloves—four to
six large ones per bulb—makes this type easier to
work with in the kitchen.
- Artichoke garlic (Subspecies sativum)
is vigorous and produces nice, large bulbs and cloves
that overlap, somewhat resembling the construction of
an artichoke— thus the name. A bulb may have as
many as 20 mild-flavored cloves. This type of garlic has
a long shelf life due to its tight skins, and it’s
especially good for eating raw.
- Silverskin (Subspecies sativum) garlic
is the perfect type to braid, and what's more cheerful
than homegrown garlic hanging up in the kitchen, handy
for cooking? This type of garlic has an attractive bulb
and the longest shelf life. In the garden, it favors mild
climates, and seems to shudder when it's cold. Its smooth,
symmetrical cloves cover a silver-white skin - a truly
Note that garlic will help keep aphids off
your roses and reduce blackspot. Simply stick three of four
cloves in the soil around each rose, pressing them an inch
into the ground, about six inches from the base of the plant.
Let them flower or, to promote the growth of the bulbs,
and produce a little extra crop, pinch off any flowering
heads that come up.