Tulips are beautiful.
Daffodils are beautiful and resistant to pests.
But there’s another bulb I love to plant in fall and harvest in spring, and this one is delicious:
I am always more motivated to grow flowers over food, but year after year I make an exception for garlic.
It’s just so easy. And while the grocery store offers regular garlic and (maybe) organic garlic, the seed catalogs offer so many different varieties. Reading these mouth-watering descriptions will give you a whole new appreciation for this flavorful food.
And few things are more satisfying than having your own inexpensive, organic garlic supply.
Here are my best tips for growing and harvesting this delicious pantry staple:
- For the freshest bulbs, order online. I love the varieties offered by Seed Savers (‘Elephant’ garlic is my favorite, but I try to order in spring or early summer as it sells out fast).
- Plant in fall when you plant your tulips, daffodils, alliums, and other bulbs. Here’s an easy tutorial from Burpee.
- Garlic comes in hard-neck and soft-neck varieties. I prefer hard-neck because these types grow flowers called “scapes.” When the scapes grow tall in late spring, they can be cut and gathered and made into a delicious garlic scape pesto. Here’s a detailed article describing the differences between the two types. Here’s a recipe for garlic scape pesto (scapes can also usually be found for a brief time at farmer’s markets).
- Harvest in summer when the foliage begins to yellow and die back. It’s best to use a garlic fork to pry the bulbs out, or else you risk cutting them with your spade.
- Garlic needs to be dried before cutting off (or braiding) the stems and putting in storage. I dry mine on a wire or wooden rack on my covered porch. To dry, your garlic will need air circulation, shade, and protection from rain.