Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Garlic in the Garden!

Homegrown garlic can be as beneficial for your garden as it is for your cooking. With antibiotic properties for both humans and your garden, it’s no wonder that the low-maintenance plant is often found in urban gardens.
Three ways garlic can benefit your garden:

Pest Control with Companion Planting: 
Plant garlic around pest attracting plants and trees to help keep a variety of insect and animal pests at bay for the entire growing season. Follow usual garlic growing steps and harvest when the time comes

Soil Detox: 
Plant garlic in a bed that previously had disease-carrying plants, such as tomatoes. The antimicrobial and antifungal properties of the garlic will “clean” the soil by killing off a variety of pathogens.

Garlic “tea” as a low-cost, low-toxicity insecticide: 
  • Chop an entire head of garlic, add it to 4 cups of boiling water, and allow the contents to steep for 24 hours. Strain the boiled contents into a spray bottle.  
  • Test the “tea” on a small portion of the plant – if everything looks ok the next day, spray away! Make sure to cover neighboring plants so that pests do not simply move. The best time to spray is during the cool portion of the day. The spray will only last a few days. 
  • Caution: while the spray kills pests, it also kills the beneficial insects.

How to grow your own garlic:
  1. In the mid-fall, plant garlic bulbs in fertile, weed-free soil. The bed should be in full sun, or as close to full sun as possible.
  2. Each clove (one section of the entire bulb) should be planted root side down, 6-8 inches from all other cloves, and 2 inches down.  *Note: larger cloves typically mean larger yield 
  3. Once spring returns, make sure the plants receive about one inch of water per week. Halt self-watering once the visible leaves begin to yellow.
  4. By mid-June, you will notice that your plants have long, flowery tops that curl and straighten into long, spikey accents. These accents, or garlic scapes, should be cut to increase growth.  *Note: use the tasty scapes as additives to pesto, dips, soups, and other sauces
  5. Fertilize your garlic every two weeks beginning in March; try compost tea and worm castings!
  6. Bulbs are ready to harvest when the leaves turn yellow-brown in June or July. Dig (do not pull!) each bulb out of the bed. Move the bulb out of the sun ASAP.
  7. To cure and preserve garlic, tie or braid the leaves of 6-10 plants together. Hang the bundles in a shady, dry, and possibly drafty area for about 4-6 weeks.
  8. Once curing is complete, cut off stalks about 1-2 inches above the bulb and store the garlic in brown paper or mesh bags.
For a garlic planting demo, join us this week in the Food Pantry from 12:30-4:00pm!


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