Garlic, Allium sativum, is a species in the onion genus, Allium
Hardneck varieties, Allium sativum var. ophioscorodon, has a stiff central stem surrounded by a single ring of cloves. Cloves are large and easy to peel.
Softneck varieties, Allium sativum var. sativum, has a soft central stem (can be braided) surrounded by layers of cloves (usually the outer cloves are larger the inside cloves are smaller). Stores well.
I plant both the hardneck and the softneck varieties.
To plant: Plant in the fall about 6 weeks before the ground freeze (I live in the Hudson Valley, NY, and plant around mid-October) in full sun, well-drained fertile soil that is rich in organic matter and slightly acidic (pH 6.2 – 6.8)
♦ Separate the bulb into cloves, keeping the papery husk on the cloves.
♦ Plant cloves, pointy end up, 3 inches deep and 6 inches apart in rows about 15 inches apart. I plant cloves 3 inches apart, then in the spring (starting around mid-April), harvest every other plant for use as garlic green. Photo below.
For additional planting information, click here for Cornell University garlic growing guide.
To use garlic green: Use garlic green as you would onion, scallion or chives. Combined with other vegetables or use alone as a special spring treat. Click here for recipes idea (meat, poultry or shrimp can be substituted for the pressed tofu in the recipe).
This is the stage I harvest for cooking
To use garlic scape: Garlic scape is another spring treat. The whole scape (stem and bud) are edible. Click here to learn more about garlic scape and a recipe. Click here for more recipe ideas (chicken, meat or pressed tofu can be substituted for the duck; garlic green can be substituted for the garlic scape in the recipe).
Garlic scape straightening up. Photos top and right (click on photo to enlarge).
These tiny bulbils are from the garlic bud at right in the photo below.
All 6 are on a United States quarter. This gives you an idea of how tiny they are.
Different stages of garlic scape buds (click on photo to enlarge). Harvest while the buds at the 2 stages at left, scapes are tender and buds are edible. Harvest when the bud is at the 3rd from left stage in photo, scape is still tender but has a stronger garlic flavor. Bud 4th from left, the scape is no longer tender, 5th, 6th and 7th bulbils at different stages.
Garlic ready for harvest
To harvest garlic: Harvest garlic when the lower leaves are brown and the top 3 – 4 leaves are green (for me, it is between late June and early-mid July, depending on the variety). If your garlic bulb split when you harvest, you harvested too late, cloves will not store well so use quickly.
♦ Using a garden fork, dig near plant (but not too close) to loosen soil, gentle pull garlic out of ground, brush away any soil (do not wash).
♦ Leave tops and roots on. Place in a well-ventilated room to dry and cure (keep out of sun).
♦ Once tops and roots are dried (3 – 4 weeks), they can be cut off.
♦ Select the largest and best looking bulbs and set aside for seed, if you are growing more than one varieties, remember to label. If you have no seed garlic, purchase some from garden center, catalog, garlic festival or better yet, a friend may be happy to share.
Do not use garlic from the food market for 2 reasons.
1. It may not be a suitable variety for growing in your area.
2. It may be treated with growth retardant.
To Store: Store bulbs in a cool dry place. As a guide, hard neck may keep up to 4 months, softneck up to 8 months.
In my June 8, 2012 post I mentioned I was observing whether removing the garlic scape had any effect on the size of the matured garlic bulb. The answer is yes. As the photo above illustrated, the scape was not removed from the bulb on the left, it weighed 1.5 ounces. The scape was removed from the bulf on the right, it weighed 2.25 ounces. Both are the same variety (music garlic) planted side by side.
KITCHEN HINT: To get rid of garlic smell on fingers, rub a piece of stainless steel flatware under cold running water.
This post has no recipe, but I thought some of the readers of Thursdays Kitchen Cupboard may find some of the information useful. So hope you don’t mind my posting.
Copyright © by Norma Chang
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