The leaves will start to fly and our gardens will have given their all. Unless you know some winter gardening tricks, you are buttoning up the beds and enjoying your harvest. Before you shut it down for the year consider these five reasons to grow garlic in your fall garden.
Next summer you’ll be glad you did.
Grow Garlic Reason #1 – It’s good for you
Garlic has been used medicinally, all over the world, for thousands of years. Organically grown garlic tends to have a higher sulfur level, and therefore, a stronger medicinal effect. Garlic has antioxidant, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects that fight a variety of ailments. It is one of the main ingredients in Fire Cider, an excellent cold remedy that we use at our house.
Take some time to review this excellent Backwoods Home Magazine article by Joseph Alton MD,Medicinal Uses of Garlic: “Garlic is known to be antibacterial, and was even studied by Louis Pasteur in 1858. In an experiment he placed cloves of garlic in a petri dish of bacteria and later noted that the bacteria were killed in the areas surrounding the garlic. Garlic is a broad-spectrum antibiotic alternative for many bacterial infections and will not lead to ‘super bugs’ like MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) that are now rampant, especially in hospitals. Before antibiotics were readily available, wound care for victims during both World Wars included the use of garlic application. Garlic is still effective for the treatment of lacerations and cuts, and infected wounds.”
Grow Garlic Reason #2 – It’s a frugal thing to do and the ROI is fantastic!
Where else can you get such a return on your investment? A bulb of seed garlic has 10-15 cloves, depending on the variety – all for $12-15 per 8 ounces. The best part? You can keep the best garden producers and re-plant them next year. They just keep on giving.
Garlic Reason #3 – Variety is the spice of life
Softneck, Hardneck, Early Season, Mid Season, Late Season. Take your pick! There is a garlic variety for every palate. Perhaps you like yours mildly spicy (Vietnamese Red) or robust (Metechi). Try something spicy (St Helen’s Red) or pungent (Italian Late). My favorite is German Red Garlic, described as full bodied, strong and spicy. It’s fantastic and versatile for cooking.
Garlic Reason #4 – Perfect for small spaces
You can prepare a garden bed for each type, or plant them as space allows. Garlic bulbs are well suited to pots and will grow in 12 inches of well draining soil. So tuck them about the yard or put them in a planter. Just be sure you mark them with the variety, so you can remember your favorites. This is especially important if you will be replanting next year.
Garlic Reason #5 – Garlic is super easy to grow.
Basically you just need to give them the right kind of soil and adequate water. They will do the rest.
Type of soil: Sandy loam, add plenty of organic compost to keep the soil light. Fertilize with 10-10-10 and keep weeds out of the garlic bed, they don’t like the competition.
Water requirements: Moderate throughout the winter, taking care that there is no standing water around them. Garlic will require about an inch per week during the spring. Stop watering in summer once the leaves start to turn.
Planting dates: September or October, in most parts of the US – but at least 3 weeks before the ground freezes.
Harvest dates: Early to late summer when the bottom 1/3 of the leaves begin to yellow. This is approximate however, carefully dig one up and make sure the skin has set or your bulbs won’t store for long. For best keeping quality, bulbs should be stored at 32-40 F and 60-70 percent relative humidity. Properly cured and stored garlic should keep for six months or more.
Planting Instructions: Prior to planting, gently break apart the garlic cloves. The largest, often outer, cloves are the most productive. Instead of planting the smallest cloves, store them in the refrigerator for use in cooking. Plant the cloves one inch deep with the pointed side up, three to five inches apart.