When you plant garlic, you plant the garlic cloves.
You want to start by breaking your cloves apart from each other. Do not pull the ‘paper’ off of your cloves. Make sure to pick your biggest and best looking cloves, not the inside ones that are small and clumped together. Otherwise, you won’t have big bulbs when you harvest them midsummer.
He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.
2 Cor. 9:6
Garlic grows best when planted in the mid fall. First, work up your soil where you want to plant it well, and mix in plenty of compost.
In a straight line, you start planting by taking the garlic cloves, with the stem pointing up in the air and roots pointing downward, and push it into the soil. Leave only the stem sticking up above the soil.
Keep repeating this process, making sure to plant the cloves 4 inches or so apart from each other.
When you have finished planting them, you will want to cover them with straw or old hay (and keep your chickens out of the beds!) Wet down the straw or old hay so that it doesn’t just blow away.
In the Spring, they will start to grow some tops. They will continually get taller, making bigger and bigger bulbs throughout the spring and early summer.
Garlic does not need as much water as other plants. If you water 2x per week, they will do well (remember to minus the rain you receive).
Note: Before you harvest, it is easier to pull them up if you wet your soil a day prior to harvesting. If you don’t want to do that, you can always use a shovel; but remember to dig them carefully!
When the tops of the garlic are laid over and dry, it is ready to be harvested.
This should be mid to late summer.
After you have pulled/dug your garlic, lay them to dry on a table outside in the shade. Keep them there (unless it rains; then move them into a barn, garage, etc) until the stems are dry and brittle.
How do you know when the stems are dry? When you can break them easily, and they feel brittle like straw or old hay.
Why do they have to be dry?
You want them to be dry, so that when you braid your stems together, they do not mold, wasting your time and harvest.
We like to store our garlic by braiding the stems together and hanging them in the coolest, driest place possible.
To begin braiding, take 3 garlic (we leave our stems long and intact) and begin braiding them like you would someones hair, adding more as you go, like in a french style braid.
Take some sort of twine, yarn, or whatever will do the job and tie the end of your braid. Knot, and make a loop to hang it from. Hang your loop on a nail or something in a cool dry place. If some of your bulbs break off, it’s alright. You can store them in an onion bag or just use them first.