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How does your garlic grow?

Our editor is a garlic-growing newbie and would love to hear your tips.

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I decided to try growing garlic this fall.

I’m not a fan of the spongy, flavourless bulbs from China that are usually the only option at the grocery store. I love locally grown garlic at the Farmers’ Market, but it’s crazy expensive (about $4 per bulb…yikes!). So, I’m really looking forward to growing and harvesting my own this year.

garlic-bulbs

I picked up some local hard neck garlic from Farmer Clem’s on the Bedford Highway (apparently you won’t have any luck if you plant the stuff from the store) and picked out the fattest cloves for planting.

garlic-bed

I cleared out one of my raised garden beds and dug five rows about two inches deep, planting the bulbs about six inches apart. I’d put this off for weeks—so this was now the second weekend of November (and it was rainy and cold), which is pretty late in the season.

garlic-row

The gardening book I checked said it’s best to plant garlic in October because the bulbs need time to mature (about 4 to 6 weeks before the ground freezes is what Niki Jabbour recommends in The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener). I’m hoping that the mild weather we’ve had lately will help me out. Otherwise, it would be a shame to waste so much good garlic!

book

I plan to put some straw or mulch over the soil to help insulate the bulbs (I’ve heard this is a good idea; do you find it makes a difference?). If all goes well, I’m looking forward to harvesting the new shoots (the edible scapes) in the spring. I’ve bought these before at the market and they’re delicious in stir fries and salads. Fingers crossed it works out!

Have you had success growing garlic before? Do you think the timing is OK to plant it in November or did I wait too long?

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