Last year, I went and helped my neighbor harvest his garlic during high summer, early int he morning, for 2 or 3 mornings. I was paid in garlic, which was more than a fair trade. There is nothing like fresh garlic, and fresh garlic freshly roasted and smeared on home made bread is enough to make your eyes roll up in taste bud ecstasy. So, of course we started thinking maybe we needed a little garlic patch ourselves. Our neighbor was kind enough to give us some advice and we marked out a little plot in the garden. Typically, garlic is planted in the fall and left to winter over and harvested from the ground in the summer.
Last summer, we learned about garlic scapes and garlic flower heads (allium) and how they turn into wee little garlic cloves, or garlic ‘seeds’. During the spring and summer, the garlic scapes can be harvested young and sauteed up for a light garlic flavor. The bees and butterflies seem to like the flower heads. However, it is best to cut these from the garlic and simply put in a vase of water to let them open.
Now, last October I badly sprained my ankle, and we simply ran out of time before winter set in. So, we have 4 kinds of fancy garlic (1 from my neighbor and 3 from a seed catalog). Most places sell garlic for the fall planting, but here is one place we often buy garden seeds from, if you want to book mark them: Seeds of Change.
Anyway, we missed the ideal planting time, but we can still plant our cloves now and harvest in the late summer. Our bulbs simply won’t be as big as if they had had all winter in the ground. The cloves are typically planted ~4-6 inches down and the same apart. They make great companion plants to asparagus and several fruit trees. In fact, our garlic patch was sporting a very happy volunteer wild asparagus plant last fall.
With my still recovering ankle, I think we will have a smaller garden this year, as we haven’t really gotten a start yet. But that is OK. As long as there is garlic.