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Garden Guru

Garlic

Jim Boxberger Jr.
Posted 9/24/21

Besides mums and flower bulbs, there are not a lot of things for planting in your flower bed for the fall, even less for the garden. One item that can be planted in the garden this time of year is …

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Garden Guru

Garlic

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Besides mums and flower bulbs, there are not a lot of things for planting in your flower bed for the fall, even less for the garden. One item that can be planted in the garden this time of year is garlic.

Garlic has been used as both food and medicine in many cultures for thousands of years. The garlic plant’s bulb is the most commonly used part of the plant. The leaves and flowers on the head are sometimes eaten, as they are milder in flavor than the bulbs.

Medicinal use and health benefits of garlic range widely from The Cherokee Indians using it as an expectorant for coughs and croup to an antiseptic to prevent gangrene during World War I and World War II. Garlic is also alleged to help regulate blood sugar levels. There is insufficient clinical evidence regarding the effects of garlic, basically because studies are expensive and even if it was proven that garlic is a wonder cure, no one (big pharma) is going to be able to make large profits from it.

Garlic is easy to grow and can be grown year-round in mild climates. While sexual propagation of garlic is indeed possible, saving and planting the seeds, nearly all of the garlic in cultivation is propagated asexually, by planting individual cloves in the ground. In cold climates like ours, cloves can be planted in the autumn, about six weeks before the ground freezes, and harvested in late spring to early summer.

The cloves must be planted at a sufficient depth to prevent the constant freezing and thawing of the ground which causes mold or white rot. The best way to prevent this is to mulch the ground after the frost has set in so that it will stay frozen until spring. You can mulch with leaves, straw and even grass clippings.

Garlic plants are usually very hardy, and are not attacked by many pests (including vampires) or diseases. Garlic plants are said to repel rabbits, moles and voles, so you may even want to plant a few with your tulips as a critter preventer. Garlic plants can be grown closely together, leaving enough space for the bulbs to mature, and are easily grown in containers of sufficient depth.

Garlic does well in loose, dry, well drained soils in sunny locations, and is hardy to zones 4. Since loose soil is not common in Sullivan County, you may need to do some amending. When amending your garden soil for garlic, loosen the soil with vermiculite or perlite instead of peat moss. Peat moss will retain moisture whereas the others will not and allow for better drainage and aeration.

When selecting garlic for planting, it is important to pick large bulbs from which to separate cloves. Large cloves, along with proper spacing in the planting bed, will also improve bulb size. Garlic plants prefer to grow in a soil with a high organic material content, but are capable of growing in a wide range of soil conditions and pH levels.

Garlic bulbs can be found at most garden centers and grocery stores as the same garlic you would pick up to make dinner with, is the same one you would plant. Garlic can be planted in spring as well, and harvested in the fall. And when you harvest in the fall you can replant a couple of the cloves for next spring as well. “Garlic the gift that keeps on giving”.

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