Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Susan's Winter Crop: Garlic
Most people think of winter gardens in terms of zero—nothing happening, nothing growing. But Howard County Master Gardener Susan Levi-Goerlich knows that something will be growing in her garden this winter—garlic.
“I planted most of my garlic about two weeks ago,” Susan said last Friday, pointing to several green sprouts—garlic leaves—poking through a thick mulch of shredded leaves. “October 15 to November 15 are the planting dates for garlic in Maryland.”
“Garlic likes good soil plus a thick mulch of shredded leaves or straw to help protect it through the winter. And it needs the mulch through the spring growing season too, because it doesn’t compete well with weeds. Planting is simple: two and a half inches deep and six inches apart, pointy end up. I use my weeding tool to make a hole in the soil for each clove.”
Susan bought heads of garlic from several suppliers last year and uses the best of that crop for her seed cloves. “I have six hard-neck varieties. Unfortunately, I didn’t label them when I planted last year, so I can’t really tell them apart, except for the two types that are purple.”
This year Susan has planted about 100 cloves, enough to fill a 4-foot by 8-foot raised bed at her plot in Westside Gardens, a part of Columbia Gardeners, Inc. The 100 cloves, of course, will grow into 100 heads of garlic, right?
“Yes,” Susan replied. “We eat a lot of garlic. Last year I planted 150 cloves and ended up with 12 mesh bags full, which was a lot. I had to go online to find ways to preserve it before it went bad. I pureed some with olive oil and froze it in ice-cube trays for use in Italian recipes. I also chopped and froze some without olive oil.”
Susan expects to harvest her garlic next summer. “Traditional harvest date is Bastille Day, July 14, but I’ll begin checking in late June because some varieties mature earlier,” she said.