lanting garlic is the start of my garden year. In my garden notebook, garlic will be entered on my 2012 page, but I will also start a new page for 2013. I use a simple college ruled notebook with each line denoting a row in the garden. Each garden and each greenhouse gets a page. Pertinent information for me is variety, planting date, tillage, and amendments. I’m a visual person, so a line per row helps me “see” the gardens of the past with a glance, and is much easier for me to decipher than a spreadsheet.
When I hang my garlic for curing, I sort by size and variety as I go. For seed selection you want to select your largest, healthiest bulbs. A minimum of two inches for bulb size will help ensure your garlic will grow well. For planting, select the largest, well-shaped cloves from the largest well-shaped bulbs. Any cloves deemed too small planting are for the kitchen, for me this a good time to slice and dry the extra cloves to make garlic powder.
I have found the best tools for garlic seed preparation are my Felco #2 pruners for cutting the stalk, and a pair of stainless steel scissors for root trimming. To rub the soil off the wrappers I just rub the bulbs with my hands.
For many years I have planted both hardneck and softneck garlic with the reasoning that the softneck garlic keeps longer than hardneck varieties. What I have actually found to be true is that longevity of garlic bulbs has a lot to do with variety and proper storage conditions. Each year I have continually used my hardneck garlic because I’m a lazy prep cook and I like the big cloves. What languishes in storage are the softneck, they keep all right, because I don’t use them because I get tired of peeling all the little cloves. I always end up throwing away way too many softneck garlic bulbs come spring. Just to hedge my bets though I decided to plant an additional hardneck for next year. Luckily I found a local farm to buy from so I can skip a year or so acclimating the new variety, Killarney Red, to my soil.
Today, I’ll pop the cloves and plant, and that will be the official start of the 2013 garden year at the farmstead.
How is garlic planting going in your garden?