Friday, October 26, 2007

Planting Garlic

More than the changing of colors in the trees (which this year, who knows why, has been oddly bland here in NYC), putting bulbs in the ground is a sure sign of fall. Sigh. This past week at the Botanical Gardens, we said good-bye to our plot and gave it the final gift of garlic--Keith Stewart's garlic from Port Jervis (NY), to be precise. A delicious hardneck Rocambole, this garlic produces fat, juicy cloves for our harvest in July. We lay salt hay down to tuck it in for the frost.

If you're hankering to plant garlic, it's as easy as finding a garlic you like (I recommend shopping around the farmers' markets and asking what they fancy), seperating the cloves, and planting them about 3" apart and 3" down if they're of a fair size. If the weather stays cool, they'll pop up little green shoots in the springtime. When they produce a scape (flowering stalk) in the spring, cut it off (to force the plant to focus on a full bulb); when the leaves start to brown and fall back, you know your head of garlic is ready to harvest.

Garlic is clonal--if you like what you've got, replant some of the cloves. I don't remember the exact numbers, but Keith told me once from a half-dozen heads, he's now got a several fields of thousands of garlics.