Last October, I planted my first garlic – if you didn’t know (I sure didn’t), you actually plant cloves of garlic. Simply peel a garlic bulb, find a nice-sized clove and put it upright in a little furrow in the soil with the pointed end up, the flatter end down. (Just the way a bulb of garlic would sit when upright.) Plant the garlic cloves about two inches apart from each other, covered with about an inch and a half of dirt. (Please excuse my low-quality iPhone photos.)
Soon enough, their green shoots were sticking out of the ground – a nice sight to see amongst the browns and browns of November.
At this point, I asked my mom when the garlic would be ready. I was thinking it would survive winter and be ready for picking in February or March. When she said, “June or July,” I immediately regretted my decision. Had I knownit took nine months to mature, I wouldn’t have gone so garlic crazy. Thinking they would be long gone by the time I went to plant my raised beds in the spring, I’d given them way too much space in my tiny little backyard garden. But in April, I was able to utilize the space by interspersing onion transplants amongst the now-massive garlic plants, since they’re companion plants.
Despite their size, the garlic still has a little way to go at this point. In May, each garlic plant gets a long shoot in between its green leaves. When those get a seed head at the top, you snap it off – and you can stir-fry the garlic shoot with some veggies. Then, you wait a few more weeks, until the green leaves start to turn brown, and the garlic is finally ready to dig up.
Then, it’s another few weeks for it to dry out. At this point, you chop off the stalk so it’s about two or three inches above the garlic bulb (like you probably see at the farmers market – I’m not crafty enough to get all fancy and braid the garlic stalk), and then after it’s dry, it’s finally ready to eat.
Last night, a full nine months since planting the cloves, I enjoyed my first meal with homegrown garlic. Crushed some garlic for a balsamic vinaigrette, and sauteed some minced garlic into a marinara sauce with chicken and angel hair pasta.
Here are a few more garlic recipes. What’s your favorite way to cook with garlic?
Tomato and Field Peas With Garlic Aioli
Garlic, Lime and Cilantro Marinated Chicken
Mediterranean Rice With Spinach, Red Pepper, Garlic and Feta
Shrimp Penne Pasta With Fresh Tomatoes, Basil and Garlic
Garlic-Roasted Cauliflower and Broccoli