Planting Garlic

Lorz Italian ready for planting
It's time to plant garlic, and today I did, over 300 little bulbs of garlic placed in a soft bed with compost and blood meal.  All I see when I close my eyes is garlic, all I can think about is garlic, my hands smell like earth and garlic all mixed up together.  It's been a day, and I am tuckered out!

I always thought that garlic was one of those throw it in the ground, get lots of goodness without a lot of work crops, but I was wrong...WAY WRONG!!!  I have been reading a book called "Growing Great Garlic" written by Ron Engeland.  He started a garlic farm in Okanogan, Washington called Filaree Farm.  He is what you would call a garlic expert, he lives eats and breathes the stuff; I am sure he smells marvelous!?!  The process that he describes is horribly complicated.  I am working up to his level, but I am no where near it now, I need time and money, and a lot more knowledge (and money...did I say that already?).

I did a few of the things he recommended for the soil in preparation for my garlic planting.  I added a large amount of organic compost as well as my own home grown organic compost to the planting beds and then added a significant amount of blood meal to give the soil nitrogen.  I tilled all of this into my rows and then planted the garlic.  I planted between 2 and 3 inches deep about 6 inches apart in rows 3 garlics wide.

Lucky me, I had some very fine help!
I planted a variety of garlic, most of which came from Filaree Farm, a few came from a local farmer, John Borski, who is kind of my farming hero, and one variety came from Ranui Gardens in Park City, Utah.

Garlic is divided into two basic groups commonly called hardneck and softneck.  Hardnecks produce a hard scape with a flower bulbil, softnecks are great for braiding because they are just as they are called, "soft" which makes them pliable.  Softnecks have a harder to peel wrapper around each clove and typically store longer than the easy to peel hardnecks.  There are a few subspecies under the hardneck and softneck.  Softnecks include Silverskins which is what you buy at the grocery store (includes Creole types) and Artichokes (includes Asiatics and Tubans which are oddly hardnecks).  Hardnecks includes Rocambole, Porcelain, and Purple Stripe (Glazed and Marbled).

A quick rundown on the varieties of garlic that I planted:  I planted Japanese an Asiatic Hardneck, Xian a Turban Hardneck, Metichi a Marbled Purple Stripe Hardneck, Chesnok Red a Standard Purple Stripe Hardneck, Lorz Italian an Artichoke Softneck, Inchelium Red an Artichoke Softneck, a Silverskin from Borski Farms, a mystery Hardneck from Borski Farms, and a Korean Asiatic from Ranui Gardens.

Planted and ready to go. 
I am planning on adding a layer of mulch on top of the garlic rows in a week or two, to help insulate and add more nutrients to the soil composition.

Putting all of this into the ground makes me terribly excited for spring, although I need a winter rest.  I think that I must love punishment because this is a tremendous amount of work, and never seems to end.  I am sure that the results will be very worth all of the effort and exhaustion!!!


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