Fall is in the air for all our friends like you, West Coast Gardeners, and that means some parts of our gardens are winding down. After a blooming beautiful summer it's time to pull out the sweaters and start enjoying cooler evenings. Luckily that doesn't mean you have to give up on the gardening all together. There are still a lot of autumn gardening opportunities to feed that soil addiction and get you out to the garden centres!
The best part is it's time to grow your own garlic. Not only does it keep the vampires away, but it also adds incredible homegrown taste to your autumn and winter feasts. Let's take a look at how easy it is to grow garlic in your own garden this fall.
Trick or Treat in the GardenOn the West Coast we can plant our garlic in October, usually about mid month is a great time to start. In order to grow healthy bulbs, garlic needs a period of cold weather. Garlic grows from individual cloves, which are small versions of bulbs. (Like tulip and daffodil bulbs!) Be careful not to peel them or damage them, as these bulbs need their tough outer skin to protect them in the soil. When you plant your garlic cloves, put them about 6" apart to allow for lots of room for growth. They need to be placed about 4" deep in the soil, then gently watered. Garlic, like other bulbs, doesn't like to sit in water. Stay away from boggy areas and parts of your garden that doesn't drain well. You can prep the soil with some compost or Sea Soil (read all about how much we love Sea Soil in our blog post over here). Pro Tip: Lots of creatures love garlic, not just humans! Keep your garlic safe from neighbourhood friends by adding netting on top, or using thorny stems (from cutting back your roses) on the garden bed until the garlic starts to sprout.
But When Do We Eat?
Your garlic takes a while to get plump and juicy, but you can expect action around February or March with tall sprouts popping up. Harvest time for your garlic is late June or early July. As soon as the tall leaves start to turn yellow, stop watering your garlic, it's important to withhold water at this point.
You can tell that it's ready to harvest when most of the tall leaves have turned yellow and look a bit dried out. Time to harvest that garlic! Gently dig around them and life both the bulb and stem out of the soil. At this point the garlic bulb needs to dry out, which can be done in the sun (if it's sunny weather!) or an indoor dry space. Leave it for about two weeks and then cut off the leaves, leaving an inch or two. Store your homegrown garlic bulbs in a cool, dry and dark space (not the fridge).
Garlic is a super nutritions food and even better when you grow it yourself and can control what kind of soil it's grown in. Garlic contains essential nutrients like Manganese, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Selenium, Copper, Calcium and more! Garlic is also known to help fight colds and flu, as it boosts the immune system. Other amazing benefits that come from eating garlic include lowering of blood pressure, improving cholesterol and providing antioxidants.
An all around healthy and absolutely delicious addition to your kitchen, try growing your own garlic this fall in your garden!