How to Plant, Grow, Harvest, and Store Garlic (plus how make garlic oil)

20180711_081445Garlic is among the easiest of all plants to grow.  The homesteader can simply top a bed with compost that has been recently harvested of its crops in October and plant a few heads of garlic.

Any garlic will do (organic always preferable).  One does not need to pay exorbitant prices for “planting garlic.”  Choose a variety from the market or health food store you enjoy.

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Separate the cloves and plant them three inches apart.  Cover with soil and top with straw.

They are among the first stalks of green in springtime.  You will see them and be reminded of your clever fall planting.  Who doesn’t love garlic?  The humble cloves can rid you of the plague, flu viruses, and cancer while adding amazing flavor to any ethnicity of food.

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Now, here is the fun part!  Come July, the stalks will have turned mostly straw colored and will languish and fall to the earth.  Gently unearth them with a hand spade, pulling out bulbs of aromatic garlic.  Shake the dirt off.  I always save twist ties and rubber bands for gardening.  Secure the stalks with a twist tie and hang from a hook in an airy, warm spot.  Like the kitchen!  In two weeks or so, the papery husks will have dried and your garlic will last nicely.  From there you can lay them in a box in the root cellar or leave them as a ristra in the kitchen so garlic is always in reach!  Save a few bulbs to plant this fall!

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Garlic Oil 

Pour 1 cup of good olive oil into a sauce pan with 1 clove of garlic, a bit of salt and pepper and a pinch of red pepper flakes.  Heat over medium-low heat, swirling the pan often, for 15-20 minutes.  Serve with great bread or drizzle over vegetables.

The Case of the Missing Garlic

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I used to think I was supposed to plant everything at the same time.  Right after Mother’s Day, time to plant.  I planted rows and rows of garlic.  They came up with their green hands waving and never really became anything.

I planted in one fall.  We moved the next March, so I never did see what the garlic became.

Last fall I planted rows and rows of garlic.  I kept them covered with straw for their long winter’s nap.  This time we would have garlic!  I looked for their awakening in the spring.  Indeed they shot out of the ground with promises of Italian food and garlic rubbed French bread.  They dissipated a bit, so I planted potatoes where the empty spaces were.  Yet, still a few stood strong.  Three small cloves were brought out of the bed last month (and I mean small, one clove).  Thinking more were behind them, I sold two of them.  I dug through the bed like a Blood hound searching out my long lost promised garlic.  Alas, it is gone.  Simply vanished.  Not a green stem, not a clove, not a husk to bid good bye.  Vanished.  No sign of vandalism, of raccoon or squirrel robbery.  No culinary savvy birds have been by.  So, where, pray, is the garlic?