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CARSON ARTHUR: It’s time to harvest those garlic bulbs


When the garlic scapes start to curl, it’s time to get ready harvest the bulbs.
When the garlic scapes start to curl, it’s time to get ready harvest the bulbs.

Rather Be Outdoors

The garlic scapes are starting to curl so its time to get ready to harvest your bulbs! Garlic is one of those plants that is an over-achiever in your garden and is a must have for several different reasons beside the obvious edible one.

Garlic helps deter bugs and herbivores from chowing down on your tastier plants. To stop rabbits, deer and even cats, plant garlic around the outside of your garden beds and planters. The animals will smell the garlic and avoid everything growing deeper in the garden.

For insects, plant garlic bulbs near the base of your tomatoes so that the fragrant shoots will grow as the plant does. Sort of like a symbiotic relationship that keeps bugs from wanting to climb up and eat the tomatoes.

I also make a natural insecticide using nothing but garlic and water.

Add 25 garlic cloves to eight cups of water and boil “outside” for two hours. I usually use the burner on the side of the barbecue. If you don’t have one, place the mix in a large clear covered pitcher in a sunny location for a few weeks. This will naturally steep the water and you will get a similar result as if you boiled it.

Next, filtre the garlic out of the water using a strainer and put the water in a spray bottle. “Soak” your plants. The bugs hate this mix. Every time you see more bugs, repeat the process.

Planting garlic is easy. Every single clove in a head of garlic (the little sections in the big one) can grow into a plant. You can literally get the garlic from the grocer and plant this in the ground and they will grow.

Here are the steps to growing your own crop of garlic.

First is timing. To harvest garlic for eating, it needs to be planted in the fall, preferably when the ground is cold to the touch but not yet frozen. Don’t be too worried if you start to see green shoots before the snow sets in. Garlic will often correct itself and start to regrow in the spring.

Plant your garlic cloves in a grid of two inches by two inches away from the next clove. You don’t have to be exact here, it just helps them grow bigger.

Plant each clove about three inches into the ground ... slightly more in windy locations so that the stalk is stronger with a better anchor.

Garlic will produce two different edible crops. The first, scapes are the cool curly flower structure that is seen usually in June/July, Cut these off about three inches from the ground where the stalk starts to get woody. These scapes are like a garlic version of chives.

Once the entire plant starts to dry out, its time to harvest the bulbs by literally pulling them out of the ground. Trim off the dead leaves and the stalk and place your garlic in a cool dark place to dry out until you are ready to use ... or plant again!

Carson Arthur is an international landscape designer and media personality with a focus on environmentally friendly design and low maintenance outdoor rooms.

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