September is garlic planting time!
Until last fall, I had never even thought about planting garlic. I just happened to come across a small packet of bulbs at the nursery and decided to give it a go. I put a couple (literally 2) cloves in the ground last fall and this July I harvested 2 beautiful bulbs of garlic. I’ve been using these sweet cloves in my cooking since then.
The most surprising part of growing garlic was the beautiful flower head that grows from them. Here’s one of the photos I took last summer.
That flower head stays that full and beautiful for quite a while….enticing you with the anticipation of what’s to come. You’ll want to cut it and put it into a vase or flower arrangement, but I’m pretty sure that would be a bad idea for the continued growth of the bulb.
I believe I’ve mentioned how much I love the magazines and books from Mary Janes Farm. This year, I was able to purchase my garlic bulbs from her store. She sells both softneck (ideal for garlic braids) and the hardneck (hardneck means it produces a scape) varieties. They are rare varieties that she’s grown over the years and slowly brought back into production. “They were originally found in the outback of the Soviet Union by Rich Hannan, the director of the Western Region U.S. Department of Agriculture Germ Plasma Bank, located in Pullman, Washington.”
I purchased 1 pound of the softneck variety – which is more than enough for my garden. In fact, I’ve given about half of the bulbs away to others to plant as I don’t really have the space to plant them all.
The bulbs arrived wrapped in newspaper (I love how resourceful Mary Janes Farm was in their shipping methods using recycled newspaper and office print-outs as packing material). The soft purple hue the on the outside of the bulbs was so pretty. The cloves are pretty tightly wrapped there inside the bulbs, so you have to work your way through the outer layers to free them for planting.
I didn’t even count how many cloves I put into the ground, but I would guess it’s around 28 now that I look back at the bed.
If all goes well, I hope to be digging new bulbs up next July, braiding the stalks and cooking with my deliciously grown gems. Next year, I may even try planting both hard and softneck varieties. Oh how daring I can be :)