Garlic: Likes Full Sun
Garlic is a member of the lily family and a close cousin to the onion. Garlic’s Latin name is ‘Allium sativum’.
Garlic has flat leaves, pinkish flower heads and roots that can penetrate two feet into the soil.
Grown as a perennial, garlic ‘sets’ or cloves are planted in August in this area and allowed to establish themselves before winter temperatures slow growth. Some references say to plant as late as October, but remember to follow natures’ clock. You will want to give garlic cloves time to develop some root and top growth before frost.
Cloves are planted about 2”deep, 3 to 6” apart and in rows as close as 12 to 16”. Cover with a mulch to insure adequate moisture and plan to water deeply during the summer.
When tops fall in late summer, irrigation should stop. In very rich soil bulbs will be large and tops will be strong. Bend any tops that don’t fall over on their own. Allow the bulb to cure.
When the tops are dry, pull or dig them from the soil. Lay them in the field or in a covered airy storage shed out of the direct rays of the sun.
At this time some people braid long strands of garlic leaves with bulbs attached, incorporating new garlic strands into the braid before running out of leaves. These garlic braids are hung in the root cellar and can be used by cutting what you need off the braid with scissors. Or, cut thoroughly dry tops and roots with shears leaving one inch of top and ½” of root on the bulb. These bulbs store nicely in airy burlap or onion bags in a cool dry place.
The large French, Giant or Elephant Ear garlic as it is sometimes called is a milder form and requires the same cultural needs.
There are many ways to enjoy garlic such as fresh on salads, baked, or in a stir fry. Organic gardeners make their own insect deterrents from garlic. Mix ½ cup of ground up garlic with 1 cup of water. Strain the chunks out of this mixture and spray on crops with aphid infestation. Be sure the spray the insect. This spray has been known to keep aphids from peas for as long as 30 days.
A more potent brew consists of 10 – 15 minced garlic cloves in a pint of mineral oil and let that stand for at least 24 hours. Strain this mixture. Add 2 teaspoons of this oil to insecticidal soap spray and use.