Plant Profile – Garlic
Garlic has been grown for thousands of years. It was originally grown in the area of present-day India, China, and Egypt. It’s known for its pungent flavor. It’s a bulbous plant closely related to chives, leeks, onions, and shallots.
The three main types of garlic are softneck, hardneck, and elephant. Softneck garlic is the easiest to grow but is not suitable to grow in colder climates. In most regions of the US, garlic is planted in the fall for summer harvest.
Hardneck garlic is best suited for growing in colder climates. It produces an edible thin flower stalk called a scape. Harvest the scape after it forms a loop so that the plant’s energy will go toward the production of a larger bulb instead of a flower.
Botanical name: Allium sativum
USDA Hardiness Zones: 1 to 10
Sun exposure: Full sun
Plant garlic in the fall a few weeks before the ground freezes in your area. Plant garlic early enough so that it will sprout roots but not form shoots above the ground. Break the bulb into individual cloves. Only plant the larger ones. Use the small ones for cooking.
Plant the cloves with the pointed end up four or five inches apart. Cover the top end with approximately two inches of soil. Cover the soil with three or four inches of mulch or leaves to conserve moisture, prevent weeds, and even out temperature fluctuations. Label the garlic location to prevent accidentally disturbing the garlic when you begin gardening in the spring.
Garlic is a mostly pest and disease-free crop. Rotate garlic and onion family crops to prevent creating a habitat for onion root maggots.
The cloves of hardneck garlic are larger and easier to peel than those from softneck garlic. Elephant garlic produces larger, milder flavored bulbs made up of four to six large cloves.
Harvest garlic in late spring when most of the leaves have died back. Use a pitchfork to loosen the soil a few inches away from the stems. This will lessen the chance of the stems breaking off from the bulls during the harvesting process.
The plants need to be cured or dried before being stored. Place them in a warm spot with good air circulation. After about a week, brush off any excess soil and trim off the roots. Wait another week and trim the stems from hardneck varieties. YOU can leave the stems on softneck varieties and braid them to create an attractive display for storage. Leave the papery outer wrappers on because they help prevent sprouting and protect the cloves from moisture and spoilage.
For best results, store garlic in a dark, cool (50 to 60 degrees F), dry location. Hardneck garlic can be stored for about six months and softneck and elephant garlic varieties can be stored for a few months longer. Garlic can also be dehydrated and ground into powder for very long-term storage.
When used as directed, Airmid’s Harvest salad dressing blends do not contain enough garlic or any other herb to produce any medicinal benefits. My products and this herb profile are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or medical condition.
Please consult with a qualified healthcare practitioner before using herbal products, particularly if you are pregnant, nursing, or on any medications.