I planted garlic this weekend. Last year I ordered several types of garlic from Seed Savers Exchange. We planted Music, Shvelisi (Chesnok red), and German Extra Hardy. They all grew well but only the Music really appealed to us flavor-wise. I saved 5 heads of it from this summer’s harvest and replanted the cloves from those heads. I also ordered some new varieties from The Garlic Store. We planted Metechi and Romanian Red garlic in addition to the Music. All together, we planted almost 70 cloves of garlic this year. That is an increase of around 10-20 from last year.
So, in case you don’t know how to plant garlic, I’ll describe. Garlic comes in heads that contain 4-12 cloves. I dig a hole about 2-3 inches deep, spaced every 6-12 inches. At the garden (i.e. not before) I separate the cloves of garlic and place them pointy end up in the bottom of the hole. I replace the dirt and move on. Typically, garlic is planted in the fall, usually around Columbus day. Through the fall and winter, the garlic forms roots from the cloves and begins to form a new head. Some folks plant garlic in the early spring but it just seems easier to me to plant them in the fall and forget about it. My garlic is all hard-neck which means that each clove will send up a hard stalk in the spring that will persist until
harvest (I am sure there are other differences between hard and soft-neck also). We harvest in July when the leaves from the hard stalks start to wither and turn brown. We carefully dig the garlic and hang it to dry in the shed (leave the dirt still attached). Once it dries for 4-6 weeks, we trim the leaves and roots and store in onion sacks in the cellar. Easy-schmeesy!
We use a ton of garlic in canning and cooking so it is likely that we will use every bit of this garlic. Once you try fresh garlic in things, it is hard to beat. The stuff is simple to grow and fairly cheap to get started. It’s easy to save heads for the next season so your investment can be a one time deal if you find types you like. There are several places that sell garlic but they usually sell out early so start looking in July or August. What we plant is organic but that’s up to you. Garlic is sterile and will not cross pollinate so you can plant different varieties side by side.