Friday, October 10, 2008

Growing Garlic

Last night I planted garlic. A lot of garlic. Halfway through the process I thought I really should have just kept the garlic to eat and not even bothered trying to turn one clove into a bulb I had so much of it.

But I had started the process and couldn't (or wouldn't) turn back.

In August I ordered the All Warm Weather Winter Area Sampler Assortment from Gourmet Garlic Gardens. I had also looked into ordering some garlic from Seeds of Change, but their garlic was all accounted for in early August! Apparently, you have to plan ahead if you want to grow garlic.
The garlic arrived sometime in September. The month was such a blur of gardening activity that I don't remember when. I knew I was supposed to get the bulbs planted in October so I was good to go. Because I am running out of room in the fenced-in garden area, I prepared for the garlic last season's cut flower bed that I never cut from because it was too pretty.
(As an aside, I am pondering the usefulness of the fenced-in area. My intent was to keep out the dog, who was then a puppy. That part worked, but now the squirrels see it as their personal cellar, protected from that now famous (p. 58) Texas black dog. The squirrels taunt her as they dig in my newly seeded beds. Sometimes the latch of the gate doesn't catch, and my dog runs inside the off-limits bed--and is been unable to find her way out. I have to run outside to open the gate for her--after taking her picture, of course. Good thing she doesn't embarrass easily. I just hope the squirrels noted that their sacred pecan-bearing area is not always dog-free.)
My sampler, a "special selection for gardeners in the deep South, Texas, and California," included Metechi Marbled Purple Stripe, a hardneck variety; Inchelium Red, an artichoke variety; Simoneti, another artichoke garlic; Burgundy, a Creole garlic; and New York white (hmm, I couldn't this one on the website. Will a NY garlic grow in Texas?).

I have to admit that at this point I am in over my head.

(That should really be over my neck to fit with the garlic theme, but then you'd groan and wince at the obvious pun. Well, except for Pam and Annie, because they would have already thought of it and worried that I'd missed an opportunity for punnage.)

I should have kept one clove from each garlic just to notice the differences. Despite my love of cooking, I've never tried much garlic beyond the bulk bulbs at the grocery store. (I've even been known to use the pre-chopped garlic in jars, but please don't tell anyone.)

But what better way to learn more? I can't wait to cook with the garlic scapes from the hardneck varieties.

Following the instructions that came with my garlic, I soaked the cloves overnight in water with a bit of baking soda. For three to five minutes before planting, I soaked them in alcohol. The instructions didn't specify what type of alcohol. I know what you're thinking. I combined my need for more edging with my need to soak the cloves, but you would be wrong.

That would be a waste of wine. I bought and used 90 percent rubbing alcohol because that's the kind you need to preserve soft-bodied specimens, like spiders. Two birds, one bottle of alcohol.
I prepared the bed, as the instruction suggested, with some compost and then I threw in some coffee grounds for good measure. I spaced the cloves six inches apart.
I've got a little room left at the end of this bed for some flowers. I don't have more pictures mid-process because I was running late to meet some friends and was planting quickly. I also must have quickly looked at my watch, because I thought I was in a Zen-zone moment and time was at a standstill. Then I looked again and saw that it was actually a whole hour later than I thought it was.

So I sacrificed pictures for a shower.

Even after a shower, I'm sure that some aroma of garlic infused with alcohol, mixed with manure-laced compost and coffee grounds wafted ahead of me into the restaurant. Good thing I'm already married. I'm not sure whom I would attract with that scent.

Stay tuned for the ongoing garlic saga. And I do mean saga. The garlic won't be ready for harvest until June 2009.


  1. We are totally cooking dinner at your house when you harvest! Hello, Italian food!!!!!!

  2. You have just reminded me that I bought a bulb at the natural gardener a few weeks ago. Must get out there this afternoon and plant the cloves. Well I know where I'm going to come if mine fails. I shall be interested to hear about the long neck variety because someone at the MG meeting commented on that but when I asked about that variety at the Natural Gardener they said long necks were for the northern climates. Of course they didn't have the longneck variety.

  3. Call me when you harvest and when Bonnie stops by for dinner... I would love to see you both! Hey, Nashville has a direct flight to Austin!


  4. Ah, the zen of planting, even garlic. The last part about what kind of smells were all mixed together sort of made my nose wrinkle a bit.

    Anyway... You've just won a pair of Daily Garden Shoes! Email me at MDG_BLOG at Comcast dot net with your email address and I'll hook you up with the guy who will be sending you some new gardening shoes!

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

  5. You've left me with my mouth watering and pining for scampi or pesto or something equally garlic-laden. THat was ALOT of garlic! I'll be watching for your post on their flavors.

  6. I've thought about ordering these, but I cannot get regular garlic to grow let alone gourmet garlic. Thanks for the info.

  7. Okay, you've convinced me. I'll see if I can find any late-season bulbs and I'll tackle a garlic-planting project.

  8. I hope your harvest looks like it will be a good one.

    I'm a repeat customer at Gourmet Garlic Gardens, but this year I won't have to be because I'll have more than enough to supply me through the year and to plant come fall. I've had two different variations of the warm weather sampler from him, and have been thrilled with both. Growing garlic really rocks--I hope you're happy with the results.

    Oh, and if your climate is like mine, some of your garlics may be shooting up scapes right now. You can harvest them and use them in stirfries and all kinds of other dishes. They're DElicious!

    Happy gardening. I'm glad to have found your blog.