A-Z Gardening in Zone 3-4

For the organic gardner struggling in the short season climate


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Garlic

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Drying Garlic                                                                         Planting garlic

There are many types of soft neck and hard neck garlic and they also have different flavors. You can order garlic cloves from seed catalogs.  ( see the post “Ordering Seeds It’s A Joint Adventure,”) never use the garlic you get in grocery stores.  Just like every thing else garlic is rated for different climate zones.  Only order garlic cloves rated for zone 3-4.  It seem that the only garlic that is rated for zone 3-4  are the hard neck types.

Garlic can be planted anytime between late August and October.  After you harvest your garlic you can set some aside to plant.   It usually takes about a year for garlic to mature into large bulbs, so plant accordingly. Before planting you must separate the cloves from the bulbs. Break the paper between cloves with a knife if you have to and then separate the cloves from the bulb.  They should be planted about 4 inches apart. (see above picture) After  planting the cloves will start to grow, sending up green shoots almost immediately.  They will stay green all winter even under the snow but will stop growing when the ground freezes.

Next summer they will produce flower spikes called scapes,  you must remove them before they flower.  Go along the row and grab them by the stalk and tug, they will come right out.  Scapes can be used raw in salads or cooked with swiss chard for example.
As soon as the tops start to turn brown they should be dug up and processed for drying.  If you wait to long the bulbs will split and they will not keep as long.  We usually wash the bulbs, with stalks still attached, then we cut off the stalks with pruning shears to about 1 to 2 inches above the bulb.  Then they are set out to dry in our greenhouse or in some warm dry place, like a sunny porch.  They should dry for a week or two. (see above picture) After drying garlic should be stored in a cool dark place, I keep mine at the top of the stairs to my cellar.  I have a real cellar with a dirt floor.  Yours would probably keep well in a cool dark closet in your basement.  I hang the bulbs in orange bags.  I save the net bags oranges come in during the winter and use them to store garlic.  They will keep a long time but won’t last until next summer.