Growing garlic couldn’t be easier. You plant it in the fall and forget about it until the following summer. It can be grown in pots or in your garden beds and doesn’t take up much room.
What Garlic Should I Grow?
There’s different varieties of garlic, but choosing large healthy heads from your local grocery store works just great. Most stores also sell a milder type called “Elephant” garlic, so named for its large cloves. Whatever type you choose, you’ll want to plant the larger outer cloves from each head. Each clove will grow into one head of garlic.
Without peeling off the papery husks, separate the cloves from the heads of garlic. Punch a hole about 1” deep in the soil and insert each clove, pointy side up and space 3-4” apart. That’s it! Water when the soil dries out, but once the cold temperatures arrive, there’s nothing else to do.
In the Northeast, we harvest our garlic in late June to mid-July. Depending on your early summer temps, most garlic is done when the green leaves start to turn brown and look as if the plant is dying. This means it’s time to gently pull the plants from the soil. Dry the bulbs with leaves intact in the sun or a dry place for 3-5 days. My grandfather liked to tie, bundle and hang his homegrown garlic in his hot, dry garage for a few months. This will intensify the garlic’s flavor, but I’m not that patient! You can enjoy your garlic and start using it after it’s dried out for just a few days.
Health Benefits of Garlic
Garlic has a reputation for preventing the common cold to it’s anti-bacterial properties. Eating raw garlic is the most beneficial, but be aware that you might notice others keeping their distance from you. Your breath might smell like an Italian deli for an hour or so after you eat it!
Tip: To experience the health benefits garlic can offer, peel your desired amount and allow it to sit for about ten minutes before using. Allicin, the active therapeutic compound in garlic will be liberated and become bio-available only after it has been exposed.