|Photo of my garlic harvest.|
This year I grew a small crop of garlic for the first time. I decided to grow my own for a couple of reasons, one for a fresher taste and two because it would be organically grown.
As I understand it there are two types of garlic you can grow, hard neck varieties and soft neck. The hard necks, I'm given to understand do not store as long as soft necks, but are ready sooner.
I chose a hard neck variety which I bought from my local nursery and planted out in early autumn. I believe garlic likes a well drained soil. I prepared the ground before planting by digging in compost and well rotted manure and let that stand for about a month. In the meantime I stored my garlic in a brown paper bag in a dark cupboard.
A little trick to discover when your garlic cloves are ready to plant is, to slice one open and if you can see the green shoot forming in the middle, then the cloves are just about at the right time to plant. I divided up the cloves from three bulbs and only planted out the biggest of these, pushing them into the soil around 1 - 3 inches (2-7cm). Then I watered in and fed them fortnightly with a liquid feed.
I watched these bulbs grow all through autumn and winter and well into spring. In November they produced the curly flower stems and their bottom leaves had died off. I read that they are ready to harvest when they have three or four green leaves left.
I was delighted with my crop and the bulbs harvested varied from very large to small. These I laid out on my deck, in the sunshine to dry. The gaps between the decking boards allowed a good air circulation. After two weeks the outer skin was dry and the dirt could be brushed off, but the bulbs were not completely dry.
I did a little research into storing and drying hard necks and came across some information that said to cut the stems off leaving around 3 inches. It said if your crop was a small one, which mine was, to place the bulbs in a net bag to allow the air to go through and hang in a dry place.
As you can see from the photo this is exactly what I did.
These are hanging from the roof of my deck and I will leave them there for at least another two weeks, before checking to see if they have fully dried. When they do, I will store them in the net bag in a cool cupboard and hopefully have some delicious garlic to use over the next few months.
If you've never tried growing garlic, why don't you give it a go. The taste will be superior and you'll know that they are organically grown.