Monday, March 30, 2009

Garlic- better late than never.

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Garlic is supposed to be planted in the fall. We usually put it in the ground in November, in a small bed that also contains a sage plant and a couple of peach trees that sprang from the compost bin like Athena from Zeus' head.*

Last fall, though, was a tense and dreadful time, bounded with the fear of, and later the reality of, losing my job. In the wake of learning to cope, the garlic did not get planted.

A week or so ago, Chuck and I went out to dinner with some friends, at a restaurant conveniently located next door to a commercial greenhouse. We got there a little early, and browsed a bit. I was surprised to see pots of garlic for sale. We did not buy them, because we had sworn not to purchase ANYTHING, no matter how cute or green or tasty it looked.

However, on Saturday we were taking the long and winding road back home from a trip to look at hardwood flooring. I told Chuck that if we passed within line of sight of this nursery, I was buying the garlic plants because I just couldn't bear a year without it. (He thought he was safe because it is far from our house and well off the beaten path. However, I was navigating... and have an excellent sense of direction and place.)

Once we arrived at the nursery, though, I was dismayed to find that there were 3 garlic shoots per pot, and the pots cost $2.99. Each. I just couldn't justify making that purchase. I mean, fresh homegrown garlic is, indeed, worth it's weight in gold, I know. But not worth $1.00 a shoot. Sorry.

We decided to take our chances and plant the garlic right now. I flinch to admit it here, but I just went to the grocery store and bought garlic bulbs there. They felt full and fresh. I dug 4 short trenches next to the Asian greens, and planted approximately 40 cloves of garlic. According to Gourmet Garlic Gardens, I can expect a small harvest, perhaps with undifferentiated bulbs. The Virginia Cooperative Extension tells me I have done it incorrectly by not chilling-
    "Garlic can be spring planted, but a chilling requirement must be met for the cloves to properly grow, and plants need to reach an adequate size before day length increases, which triggers bulb formation. To meet this requirement, spring planted garlic should be stored under refrigeration for at least 8 weeks prior to planting, and should be set as early in the spring as possible."
I don't care- I just want garlic. We'll see what happens. Next fall, provided we still live here, or expect to live here in the summer, the garlic WILL be planted. Mother Earth News has an article about garlic planting here, should you care to read it. Kenneth Point, who gardens here in Central PA has more to say here.

*We don't expect nice peaches to come from this, since peach trees are grafted and the seed stock doesn't reproduce true. Go here for a good explanation. But hope springs eternal, and Chuck just couldn't bear to trash them. We are also kind to the volunteer tomatoes that jump up, too.

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