Since I ordered my garlic bulbs way back in the spring, I was not thinking of them at all when they arrived in the mail several days ago.
I got those garlic cloves into the ground right away even though they could have been planted anytime from October through November. Getting them earlier gives them a chance to put down some roots and get nestled in for the winter.
In the past, I’ve had to postpone my garlic planting until well into November and the crop seemed to do quite well despite the delay.
You have to plan ahead if you want to grow garlic because when planting time rolls around, you very likely will not be able to find cloves to plant. So put it in your calendar for next spring as a reminder to yourself to place your order.
Garlic is normally planted in the fall. Planting at that time of the year allows the garlic bulb to be exposed to several weeks of cold temperatures which stimulates bulb production. Missing the fall date can be disappointing, it means waiting an entire year before planting a crop.
If you are the type of person who doesn’t mind experimenting a bit, spring planting may be a option. Bulbs grown from spring planted garlic are significantly smaller which is why it is not recommended. Farmers would never be able to make a profit with an undersized crop, but in a garden it is worth having some fun with.
The other thing with spring planted garlic is finding bulbs to plant since most seed companies ship their garlic in the fall. One solution is to plant garlic from the supermarket produce department. You’ll never know what variety you’ll be getting but look at it this way, someone had a good enough crop with them to grow enough to sell.
Even though spring planted bulbs will be smaller, that doesn’t mean they will not be usable. You’ve probably eaten green onions before, you can eat green garlic too. If you’ve never tried fresh green garlic right from the garden, you’re in for a treat. The garlic taste is quite unexpected when your taste buds are expecting an onion flavor.
Don’t let them get too mature though. Green onions or scallions that swell up at the root end as they get older are still quite usable. Green garlic at that stage will start to develop the separations that eventually become cloves. When that happens tough membranes form that eventually become the papery wrappings over each clove that you see in full sized garlic. Those membranes make the young garlic too chewy to enjoy eating. At that point you just let them grow.
Since your spring planted garlic is late, you’ll have to give it every advantage to make growth. The first important thing to remember is garlic hates to be planted on it’s side. It’s critical that you plant the garlic clove with the bottom pointing down, don’t just toss it into a hole otherwise you’ll reduce the size of the mature bulb even more.
In your richest area of your garden, dig your planting hole so that top of the clove is covered by about two inches of soil. Plant the cloves between 3 and six inches apart; the closer spacing for green garlic, the more distant for garlic bulbs.
Early and season long weed control is essential, garlic just doesn’t compete well with weeds. Kill those weeds while they’re still little and keep it up all through the season. Make sure the soil is kept evenly moist but not soaking wet. The object is to try to encourage the garlic to grow as much as it can early in the season so that it will have plenty of green leaf area for photosynthesis.
If you’re going to do this thing, do it now — don’t wait until May. Garlic needs as much cool soil as you can provide during the early stages of growth.
With some care and persistence, you’ll end up with a culinary conversation piece that will surprise your garlic loving friends.
While it’s popular to bash seemingly frivolous tax payer funded scientific research, I think most people would agree that a vast majority of research is worth while.
There is some really interesting research happening over at the US Department of Agriculture that may have the potential to spill over into the organic gardening area. A naturally occurring chemical called methyl bromide may turn out to be a safe, effective, natural insecticide suitable for organic growing.
If methyl bromide sounds vaguely familiar, it’s because you’ve probably seen it on a list of food ingredients on the package of one of your favorite foods or beverages. It’s often listed under one of many different names such as methylbenzoate, benzoic acid, methyl ester and others.
Methyl benzoate is found naturally in the flower aromas of daffodils, tuberoses, kalachoe, snapdragons, petunias, and many others. These flowers produce methyl benzoate as part of their fragrance to attract bees and other insects. This substance contributes to the flavor of bananas, cherries, cloves, allspice, mustard, coffee, black tea, dill, kiwi and other plant foods. It’s used in the food industry for its nutty, cherry-like flavor and fruity, flowery scent.
As it turns out, this chemical, when isolated or as part of a formulation, can repel or even kill many insect pests. Plus it leaves no long term residue that can build up on food or in the environment. All of this is still in the early stage of research, but if it turns out that a methyl benzoate formulation is effective, it probably won’t take long for it to gain governmental approval.
Many insect pests are developing resistance to current pesticides this may help to fill the void left by insecticides that are no longer effective. Also, organic insecticides are not always good at killing certain types of pests. If it works, methyl benzoate will be a valuable addition to the organic insecticide arsenal.
As a side note, methyl bromide is scent drug sniffing dogs are looking for. Methyl benzoate is produced when cocaine is exposed to the moisture in the air.
I was a startled the other day as I was putting on my coat getting ready to go outside. It was quiet in the house and I was the only one home. All of a sudden I heard a snap and the clickey-clack sound of what sounded like small beads landing on the table and front entry tile floor. At first I thought maybe the cat had discovered something and was playing. I often blame the cat for things but to be honest, he very rarely is at fault. I looked up thinking a part the ceiling lamp had disintegrated or one of the lights failed however, everything was intact.
It took a few minutes of investigating but I found out what caused the mysterious sound. Scattered around on the floor and furniture I found a whole slew of seeds that I quickly realized were lupine seeds. Earlier this fall we collected some lupine seed pods from a roadside near us hoping to re-establish a Lupine perennis population on our property. When we got home, we put the pods in a bowl on the table in the front entry and just forgot all about them.
Plants have many ways of spreading their seeds. For example, squirrels bury acorns, maple trees have those little helicopters thingys and milkweed uses silky parashoots that are carried by the wind. Other seeds stick to animals or pass through the digestive systems of birds and are dropped far away from the parent plant.
Lupine seed pods explode when they mature, throwing seeds several feet in all directions. Botanists call this spontaneous phenomenon dehiscence. You may have seen this with other plants such as impatiens or sorrels. In this case, inside the house, it was very surprising.
I made a mental note to make sure I told my wife about it but, through the course of a busy day, I forgot about it. Later that evening when were binge watching Blue Bloods, all of a sudden we heard a snap! and the clicking sound of seeds bouncing off of the walls. Another seed pod exploded ricocheting seeds all over the place. It was then I remembered what it was I meant to tell her.
The mystery sound was solved and the cat was once again vindicated.
Although nowhere near as popular as poinsettias, rosemary plants are becoming a favorite holiday plant.
Rosemary trimmed to a conical shape bears a striking resemblance to a miniature Christmas tree. Though it may look like it, rosemary is not related to pine, spruce or any other evergreen trees. It belongs to the mint family of plants which includes basil, thyme, mint and sage.
Just brushing against the leaves of a potted rosemary releases its signature fragrance that can fill a room.
In most cases, fresh sprigs can be cut from a potted rosemary and be used in recipes calling for this herb. I say in most cases because sometimes plant growers apply systemic pesticides to their rosemary crop. In that case the rosemary is intended for ornamental use only and not for consumption. Always read the plant tag before assuming your plant is OK to use in the kitchen.
Don’t be tempted to water your plant and let water stand in the saucer or wrapper thinking that will supply even moisture. Standing water will drown and kill rosemary roots and eventually the entire plant.
On the other hand, don’t let the plant dry out. The stiff foliage doesn’t appear to wilt much when the plant gets dry, but damage can happen pretty quickly from lack of water.
Try this little trick: try to gauge how much your rosemary weighs before you water it. After the plant has drained in the sink, note how much heavier it feels when you pick it up. After a few times you’ll be able to have a good guess at how dry the plant is. If you’re not comfortable doing that, use a moisture meter — they’re relatively inexpensive and make a great Christmas gift!
Finally, be sure your plant gets as much direct sun as possible — a south window is almost mandatory. We’ve been setting ours outside during these mild days to help the plant get more sunshine.
Last spring, I had a rosemary plant in a six inch pot that over-wintered in the garage. It looked like it could use a vacation, so, I took it out of its pot and planted it directly into the garden.
While in the garden, it suffered the regular abuse that you expect a rosemary plant to endure. Whenever I needed rosemary for cooking, I pulled off leaves. Also, I tore off a few stems to use for starting some new plants from cuttings. It certainly didn’t get coddled during the summer.
This fall it survived those nights when the temperatures dipped down into the teens. Normally, rosemary can’t deal with our harsh winter temperatures. I have in the past, had one or two, by chance, survive a mild winter.
This week, I finally decided to dig and re-pot this tough little plant. Despite all of the abuse and neglect, the roots grew large enough to fill a 12 inch pot. Also, the dead and damaged stems needed some pruning. Otherwise, it looks to be in pretty good shape.
My plan is to let it rest in our cool, dimly lit garage over winter just like last year. Then, come next spring, I’ll plant it back out into the garden.
Our Indian summer is here for several more days but it won’t last forever. Frost hit in some low lying areas a week or so ago but many gardens are still going strong.
Some plants in the vegetable garden can tolerate light frost; others have no resistance to it. Basil is one of those crops that can’t take even a hint of frost.
I’ve taken the time to collect some of my basil now before the frost hits here. In the past, I’ve dried basil in a food dehydrator. Many of the subtle flavors seem to be evaporated out doing it that way but it stores well and keeps most of its green color,
Last week I chopped a quart of fresh basil and poured olive oil over it to keep it fresh. There is nothing new to this method. For years, people have been preserving basil in olive oil. I found out just recently that botulism could form in the basil-oil mixture if it is kept at room temperatures for more than a few days. Even if the mixture is refrigerated, botulism can grow. The only safe way to keep basil and oil mix is in the freezer.
I froze a couple of pint jars and brought one out today just to check it. It’s frozen solid; I’ll have to let it thaw a little before it will be easy enough to scoop out.
Some people put their basil-oil mix into ice cube trays and then freeze it. Later, they take cubes out of the freezer as they need them.
Next year I think I’ll watch out for ice cubes at the garage sales.
In past years I have written about the subject of planting garlic. I think it never hurts to remind experienced gardeners that they need to get that garlic in now. Also, there may be new readers that would like to try their hand at growing their own garlic.
To get garlic like those shown in the photo, you need to follow just a few simple guidelines.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that garlic needs to be planted in the fall. That means if you are thinking about doing it, now’s the time. Fall planting allows the plant to establish roots before the ground freezes. You can plant garlic in the spring but keep in mind that the bulbs will be quite a bit smaller that if you planted now. Don’t wait too late in the season either. Planting too late in the fall will have similar results as spring planting… small bulbs.
I should mention that garlic is planted from cloves separated from a garlic bulb. If you are planting a small crop, one or two bulbs from the grocery store will work fine. So called seed garlic is available from seed suppliers for those who want to plant a larger amount.
Since garlic is considered a heavy feeder, be sure the area you select has fertile soil and full sun. Addition of manure or compost is always a good idea.
After separating the cloves, place them into the soil at a depth of one to two inches. You can dig a furrow and set the cloves into it or just push them into the soil. They need to be about six inches apart so they have room to grow next spring. The space between the rows should be at least six inches or more depending on the amount of space you have.
Once the soil freezes, mulch the area with straw, leaves, grass clippings or something similar to a depth of four to six inches. Your new garlic will be happily tucked away and protected against the harsh winter conditions and freezing and thawing cycles.
Next spring rake off the mulch to let them begin their growth.
Keep in mind that garlic cannot compete against weeds. Any weeds present will drastically reduce your harvest.
Here we are, it’s the last day of November and I just got our garlic in the ground a few days ago.
Regular readers of this blog already know that fall is the time of year that you plant garlic. Garlic can be planted in the spring, however you will end up with bulbs half the size of those planted in the fall.
I think there is still some time to get your garlic planted, I wouldn’t wait too much longer though.
If you have a helper in the garden, decide who is going to go out and find some garlic cloves to plant while the other stays behind and prepares the area to be planted. If you are by yourself,well then, you’ll have to do both.
Check the garden centers for garlic cloves, if they are out, a farmer’s market stand may have some that can be used for planting. The garlic purchased in a grocery store produce department will most likely have been treated with a sprout inhibitor and will not be good for planting. Sprouting is what we want. I used my garlic that I saved from this years crop.
Your garlic spot must be free of all weeds and kept that way during the growing season because garlic does not compete well against weeds. If you are planning on amending your soil with compost or peat, now’s the time to do so.
Break apart the garlic bulbs into individual cloves just as you do in the kitchen, only this time you won’t be running them through the garlic press.
Plant the cloves into the soil about 2 inches deep and about 6 inches apart. Place the root end down. You can just push them down into the soil with your finger or dig a furrow like I did here.
Cover them up with soil and let them go until the soil freezes. During this period, the cloves will grow roots. Hopefully we will have a mild December which will allow our late planted garlic some time to develop those roots. No fertilizer is needed for now, we’ll apply that in the spring.
Once the ground freezes, cover the bed with straw, compost or other type of mulch. It’s much better for the garlic if the soil is kept at a consistently cold temperature (which the mulch will provide) than to be freezing and thawing over and over through the winter.
In the spring we will remove our mulch and add fertilizer, garlic is a crop that needs a lot of plant food.
We’ll revisit this project again at mulching time and fertilizing time.
…the garlic bulbs that is. Today we mulched our garlic beds. The raised beds we have for vegetable production measure about 5’x9′. Five pounds of garlic bulbs plant six of these beds exactly. We used wheat straw about 6′”-8″ deep to cover these six beds. Four moderately heavy bales did the trick. By the way, these bales of straw were of the most beautiful golden wheat color I have seen in a long time. In a way it was amost a shame to use them for mulch, but that’s what they’re there for. The bright color ensures that we don’t import a new batch of weed seeds from weed stalks that could have been baled up out in the field by the farmer along with the straw. Straw that has lots of different color stems in the bale more than likely are contaminated with weeds.
If you promise not to tell anyone, I”ll let you know the secret to growing super size and delicious garlic. So just let me know if you can “keep it under your hat”, by writing me a short note in the comment section that you like garlic.
Well, now that the garlic bulbs are all tucked in their beds for the winter, I think I’m going to have lunch and take a nap. Bob