Grow Great Garlic!

Our friends at the National Garden Bureau offer up a few terrific ideas on buying, planting, harvesting and using garlic.

Add garlic to your garden this year.

Add garlic to your garden this year.

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After a recent trip to north-central California and a stop at the famous Garlic World retail shop, it prompted thoughts about growing our own garlic. It's actually quite easy to grow but there are certain varieties that grow better in each region so check with local extension offices for their recommendations for your area.

Where to buy 

National Garden Bureau's members offer quite a selection of garlic varieties so have fun perusing all the options. Be sure to order soon, as many items are already sold out:

Botanical Interests features several garlic assortments so you can try multiple varieties in smaller quantities to decide which is your favorite.

Burpee not only offers a large variety of garlic to choose from but a how-to video that explains the basics.

Dominion Seed House has both a California White and Elephant garlic.

Gardener's Supply offers a unique way to grow garlic with their Garlic Grow Bags.

Harris Seeds has a nice large white garlic available to order.

Jung Seed offers garlic for many uses and regions.

Territorial Seed has almost 40 different varieties to choose from!

The Cook's Garden website offers six different varieties named for various parts of the world.

When to plant 

In areas that get a hard frost, it is recommended you plant your garlic 6 to 8 weeks before that frost. In southern areas, February or March is a better time to plant. Garlic loves well-drained soil in a sunny spot with plenty of organic matter. As basic as it sounds, make sure you plant with the root side down and the pointed end up. We like this co-planting guide to make the most of your gardening space.

To scape or not? 

Trimming the tops of hardneck garlic (known as garlic scapes) as it grows seems to be a matter of personal preference. Just try it with some to see which you prefer.  If you trim the garlic scapes, there are many edible uses. If not, just let them keep growing until you harvest.

When to harvest 

Harvest time depends on when you plant, but the key is to look for the garlic leaves to turn brown. In Northern climates, harvesting will probably be in July or August. In Southern climates, it will depend on your planting date. Either way, discontinue watering then check the bulb size and wrapper quality. Wait too long and the protective wrapper will start to disintegrate. Dig too early and the bulb will be immature.

Uses for garlic 

As for usage, who doesn't love garlic? We can rely on our friends at Food Network and their 17,233 recipes using garlic!