Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Garlic: Two Healthy Harvests

Why not plant a garlic garden this fall? Now, is a good time to get started. There are many varieties to choose from and if you have to order bulbs, do it soon. Frequently, towards the end of summer the supplies are low and some varieties may be sold out.

There are numerous varieties to choose from depending on your taste and climate zone. Most of the garlic sold at roadside stands and farm markets is hardneck garlic. It generally has a more robust garlic flavor and some even has a little heat. Hardneck garlics produce a scape as the underground garlic bulb matures.

Scapes are very flavorful and have a mild garlic flavor. There can be used in a pesto, pickled, froze for later use, fried (great in home fries) and added to a lot of dishes (a great topping for grilled steak or fish).

Softneck garlics are generally found most frequently at the supermarket. They are easier for commercial growers to harvest. A few varieties of softneck garlics will produce a scape, but most do not.

Garlic, one of the most healthy garden foods, is an easy crop to grow; it is not very demanding. Like most crops, it wants sunshine and well drained, and well managed soil. Garlic is planted in the north in September and October before the really cold weather arrives.

Winter doesn't bother the single clove planted underground. That clove will produce the some of the first greens of the spring. In this Zone 5, the scape then appear about mid-June, depending on the weather. Normally, the garlic is ready to harvest in late July.

Remember to save you largest bulbs to re-plant. Large cloves grow the following year into large bulbs once again. The smaller cloves can be used in cooking.

If your thinking about planting garlic, consider the hardneck varieties, you actually get two healthy and flavorful harvests.

Blogs I am following:

On Your Way to the Top

New York's Southern Tier

Urban Veggie Garden

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