I love garlic. Other than baking, there may not be anything that I cook that doesn’t include garlic and lots of it! For me, many recipes I find are low on garlic and spices in general because my family and I like big, bold flavors. Go bold or go home, right? I tend to double the amount of garlic in most recipes to get it to my flavor level so we go through a lot of it. However, until this year, it never occurred to me to grow it myself. I figured growing garlic would be difficult because . . . because I don’t know why.
The first time it ever entered my consciousness was back in the days of playing The Sims 3. No, really. I used to love gardening in The Sims and one of the crops they could grow was garlic and that’s when I had my aha moment. You can grow garlic at home? Get out! But it was years later before I tried it myself. So how did the Great Garlic Gardening Experiment go?
Disclaimer: If you’re here for an official how-to from an experienced gardener, this isn’t it. I am still a novice gardener but I am very excited to share my garlic with you along with my observations.
From my reading I learned that garlic should be planted either in the fall or early spring. Since I was planning my garden in early March I decided to do an early spring planting and hope for the best. I bought some garlic bulbs and they looked just like regular garlic from the grocery store, but with a longer root. I read the directions and it looked like I was supposed to plant the whole head, root down. I did that and later read that I was supposed to take the cloves out and plant them individually. Oops! But despite my mistake, my garlic started to grow.
Also from my reading I read that garlic is ready to harvest in the summer and it looked like in our zone harvest time would be in July. By late June, this is what my garlic looked like:
Okay, so my garlic grew, but now what? Since it’s a bulb how am I supposed to know when it’s ready to be picked? So I took to Google again and read that it was time when the shoots start to turn brown. Mine were turning and starting to look sad and droopy so I took a chance and pulled them out.
In retrospect I think I should have left them a little longer so my third pot, which has been growing slower than the other two anyway, is going to stay planted for a while, but I have garlic! It’s smaller than commercial garlic and despite my haste in harvesting them I have heard that the bulbs become more hearty as the years go on.
But here they are, my cute little garlic bulbs. This is legit gardening, y’all. This may be more exciting to me than maybe I should be, but since this is only my second year gardening ever, this makes me all giddy.
Here they are next to their bigger cousin, a bulb of grocery store garlic. So for next year I will definitely leave it in the pot longer and put fewer bulbs in each pot, but it grew and it’s fragrant and I can’t wait to use it!