Garlic: A Plant to Love

You'll never do grocery garlic again.

| May/June 2008

  • Garlic plant Sylvan
  • Garlic hanging

    Jupiter Images/Ross Durant
  • Garlic Ari Davenport
    Ari Davenport shows off part of the family’s harvest.
    Kristin Davenport
  • Garlic flowering Popic
  • Garlic growing
    The cure for grocery garlic is to grow your own.
    Barbara Pleasant
  • Garlic bulbs Cornelia Pithart
  • Garlic raw Glade
  • Garlic purple

    Jupiter Images/Neil Emmerson

  • Garlic plant
  • Garlic hanging
  • Garlic Ari Davenport
  • Garlic flowering
  • Garlic growing
  • Garlic bulbs
  • Garlic raw
  • Garlic purple

In the snowy high country of the Rocky Mountains, it seems a miracle each year when the slender green shoots of garlic emerge from the nearly frozen ground.

Along with the crocus, garlic pushing its way out of the cold earth is a sure sign that spring is here, even if we have yet to endure a few late snowstorms (which, by the way, garlic doesn’t seem to mind a bit).

Of all the things to grow in your garden, garlic is perhaps one of the most profoundly satisfying, and it is one of the crops with the longest growing season around. In most North American climates, it takes a full nine months to grow a good garlic crop – about the same amount of time it takes for a human to grow a baby. We’re talking serious dedication here.

Garlic is one of few crops that gardeners and farmers plant in the autumn – after the pumpkins have been pulled from the field, after the corn is nothing but dry stalk, after the tomatoes are all turned to sauce.

Only then, when the nights are crisp and the days are getting short, do you pull out your dibble, punch little holes in the ground, drop little cloves of garlic into their burrows (pointy-end up) and tuck them into bed with a little soil.

And then, you rest – and hope the snow falls. Garlic loves nothing more than a blanket.

Sally Johnson
4/17/2009 5:30:42 PM

I learned so much about garlic from your article! I did not know you should cut off the scape to prevent bulbils from forming. Those little bulbils in my garden all dried and scattered, self-seeding. Many, many are growing this spring. Will they make usable bulbs, if they grow another season? Thank you so much for the informative article!

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