If you enjoy pickling or preserving the scapes then choose a hardneck variety that has the bonus of also producing the garlic bulb for use in cooking. The mild flavored Elephant Garlic is considered a hardneck variety.
Garlic is easy to grow, and can be grown in containers. Make sure the containers are 8-10 inches deep and at least as wide. This allows for growth of the bulbs The garlic bulb requires very little attention. Just plant each bulb section about 1 inch deep (the pointed end up, rounded end down). Each bulb should planted be about 4 inches apart and far enough from the edges of the container so the bulbs have space to grow.
A good potting soil mixed with rotted compost and some well composted chicken fertilizer at planting time is all that is needed and watering only when dry. You can test dryness by poking a finger into the soil at least 2 inches to check for moisture. Garlic may rot if kept too wet. In the rainy season it may be wise to move the container where it is not receiving a lot of rain water, yet still receives plenty of sun, but keep an eye on it so it is not completely drying out. The container should receive at least 6 hours of sunlight per day.
Since you will have space in the container, you can interplant with carrots, and lettuce that will not compete with the garlic if kept within 2 inches of the garlic bulb location.
When to plant
Autumn and spring is the best time to plant garlic, to allow it a long growing season. If Planted in Autumn, garlic can be harvested the following June or July. If Planted in spring, it can be harvested at about the same time, anytime through June to August usually.
Note: Garlic should not be planted in the same location the following season.
Scapes can be harvested at any time, but do not harvest all, which can inhibit bulb growth, causing smaller bulbs. If the garlic starts to flower, remove the flowers to allow larger bulbs to develop. Harvest the bulbs when the green leaves begin to wither and yellow or turn brown. If you wait too long, the garlic may lose some flavor and not store as well.
Harvesting Garlic Bulbs:
Loosen the soil around each garlic bulb with a trowel, carefully so as not to bruise or cut into the bulb. Lift the bulb from the soil and gently brush off. Lay the garlic out on a screen or mesh wire where air can circulate around it. Allow to air dry, then brush any remaining dry soil from the bulb. Store in a dry, cool environment. The garlic bulbs should store for at least 3 months and up to 6 months. If you want, once the garlic is dry, you can braid the garlic leaves and hang in a cool, dry location with good air circulation. Note: In good weather, I just hang mine on the fence out of direct sunlight. I've seen others hang from barn rafters, and covered porches until dry. Remember to reserve some of the cloves for replanting in autumn.
Storing: Trim the stalks and the roots, store in a cool, dry environment. You can store in mesh bags and hang a few in the kitchen to use in your daily cooking, or store a few in your garlic keeper in the kitchen.
If the bulbs dry out completely, remove the papery peels and process in a blender or food processor to make your own garlic powder or minced garlic. You can dehydrate garlic in a dehydrator then process for garlic powder. You may want to move your dehydrator to an outdoor shelter when drying garlic or any of the allium family, it can be very strong while drying indoors.
Suggested Uses: Of course garlic can be used fresh or dry in many recipes. You can mince, slice or use whole cloves of garlic, depending on the amount of flavor you may want in the dish your are preparing. Minced and chopped releases more of the garlic oils and will be stronger flavored than if sliced or used whole.
You can make infused Garlic oil to use with vinegar and oil dressing. Keep refrigerated. Garlic cloves and scapes can be added when pickling cucumbers, zucchini or other vegetables.
When dehydrated, the garlic powder or minced garlic can be used in DIY herb and spice blends. Or used to make garlic butter and used alone as seasoning in any dish garlic powder is called for.
Refer to my Garlic and Parmesan Herb blend at the following link:
Refer to my instructions for making herbal oils at the following link:
Refer to my instructions for pickling garlic:
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CREDENTIALS: Certified Oregon State Master Gardener since 1999. Horticulture degree 2001. Study of Herbs and Horticulture Therapy, heavy research and study of all plants and herbs. Gardening a lifetime