Garlic is perhaps one of the easiest crops to grow with a little bit of prior planting. Here's how we grow it in central Ohio.
Garlic is my favorite crop to grow because its timeline is opposite of most of the rest of the crops that we grow. It is planted in October, overwinters in the ground, sprouts up in early spring and gets harvested in early July. Garlic levels out some of the workload in the spring by not needing too much of our time. Then when the busy planting season is winding down in early summer, it's time to harvest and cure the garlic.
To plant, begin by separating each bulb into cloves. Each clove will grow into a completely formed bulb. Cloves are planted about 4 inches deep and about 4-5 inches apart in a row. Each row is about 10 inches apart so that we can get the wheel hoe between the rows for weed control.
Remove the scapes when they appear. Scapes are the flowering part of hardneck garlic varieties. Softneck garlic doesn't produce scapes.
Harvest Around July 4th
It's time to harvest the crop when about half of the green leaves have turned brown and are withering. For us, that's usually in early July. Waiting too late to harvest will mean the bulbs have grown too large and the protective paper covering will split, resulting in poor storage ability of the cured garlic. Harvesting too soon will mean smaller overall bulbs.
To harvest, dig each row with a D-handle garden fork. Be careful not to pierce the bulbs with the tines of the fork. With the soil loosened, pull each bulb and shake as much soil off as possible.
Leave the stems on the bulbs while curing. The bulbs absorb moisture from the green stems which also plumps up the bulbs. Cure in a dry, shady location with plenty of air flow. In about 3 weeks the stems will be dried and ready to cut from the bulb. We use pruning shears to clip the stems and heavy duty scissors to trim the roots. The bulbs are now ready to store long term. If cured and stored properly, hardneck garlic will store for about 4 months.
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