growing garlic

Spring Garlic Woes

Dear Readers:

I have been receiving letters lately from folks worried about their garlic. It is understandable. With great anticipation, we insert these naked little cloves in cold soil, just as the season takes a downturn; we stress throughout the snows and storms of winter as to whether they can possibly survive; come early spring, we are elated when we see their tender tips emerge, apparently unscathed; then we plunge into worry and anxiety when, despite their rapid growth, they show signs of yellowing tips; we scrutinize them for other diseases, insects, “issues;” we feed them, water them, murmur soft nothings of encouragement; we marvel at the beauty of their gangly scapes, waving in the wind; and then with a certain amount of apprehension, we begin digging the bulbs, 9 months in the making, one by one; we cradle them gently, inhale the fragrant aroma as they hang to cure in gentle breezes, and then we, sometimes with great flourish and ceremony but without apology, devour them.

Who needs this roller coaster? We all do! Obviously. But it’s a slippery slope, my friends, very slippery indeed.Read More »Spring Garlic Woes

Crocus, Frogs, and Bees! Oh My!

LOVE the “firsts” that happen in January! First crocus, alder catkins, croaking frogs! This warm weather has brought out the bees, and they are returning with pollen! And look! The garlic shoots are up! Farewell January. Bring on Spring!

Garlic Planting Conundrums – Part 3

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This is my final post in this Garlic-Planting Conundrum series – and by now you probably think I am beating this whole thing into the ground. But I wanted to share a few practical things about figuring out your space needs and preparing the planting area, particularly under less-than-ideal conditions. Now is the time to think about next year, and with some forethought, you can save yourself a lot of work!

In this post I talk about

  • Figuring out how much garlic you should grow and how much space you will really need
  • Mulching and tilling – or not
  • What kinds of tools will help you get the job DONE (and which ones can you throw in the brambles)
  • Alternative planting methods, and do they work?
  • The nitty-gritty of building beds.

Read More »Garlic Planting Conundrums – Part 3

Garlic Planting Conundrums, Part 2

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Garlic Planting Conundrums, Part 2, in which we ask, where can you fit garlic in a permaculture landscape, what about companion planting with garlic, and what is the most efficient way to grow really great garlic?

So, in my earlier post, we talked a bit about figuring out where to plant the garlic from year to year, and how it can be a lot of work to break new ground and turn it into something soft and loose enough to grow a well-rounded, firm, disease-free, long-lasting, ultimately flavorful head of garlic, which is what we’re all after, right?Read More »Garlic Planting Conundrums, Part 2

Garlic Planting Conundrums – Part 1

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I’ve written several articles about planting garlic, growing garlic, miserably failing at growing garlic, harvesting & curing garlic, and yes, eating garlic – and I have wanted to use the word, “Conundrum” in the title of every one of them. True.

Garlic SignBut here’s what happened: I stopped by our local farm store the other day to pick up some bone meal, and a big sign on the door proclaimed (see sign to the right) …

“You’re tellin’ me! I need to get my act together,” I thought, as I pushed through the door. Read More »Garlic Planting Conundrums – Part 1

Yellow Tips on Garlic and Other Growing Dilemmas

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Garlic in Early June

June 4: The garlic is standing tall and looking strong, despite a few yellow tips.

…or, Good Grief! Give the Bees a Break!

My 5-year-old grandson gave me a special letter the other day. Inside the envelope was a carefully folded (multiple times) picture he had colored of a rad dude on a motorcycle. (Nice job!) But more revealing was the  envelope on which he had scrawled in his very best handwriting “GRAMMA,” along with a little happy face, below which was a large letter B. He explained to me that the face was a bee, because he knew his grandma loved bees. More pointedly, he had earlier told his mother, “All Gramma ever talks about is bees….Read More »Yellow Tips on Garlic and Other Growing Dilemmas

Urgent: Weed Your Garlic!

It’s officially spring and that means the beginning of Panic Season! So much to DO! Here is one more urgent task on your to-do list: WEED YOUR GARLIC. Early Spring is the most important weeding you will EVER DO in your garlic bed – and here is why.

Time to Plant Garlic!

Time to get that garlic in the ground if you haven’t already! Need garlic? We still have some! Want a tool to make the planting easier, faster, & more uniform? We have just the thing! Need planting tips? Look no further!

What’s Wrong with My Garlic?

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What’s Wrong with My Garlic? Does your garlic have yellow-tipped leaves, signs of mold and rot, falling over stems, thirsty insects sucking the living juice right out of the plants? If you don’t think you have problems, after reading this, you might change your mind.

Garlic Status: Mid-July

I am getting lots of questions about where we’re at with the garlic – when we’ll have bulbs for sale – and how about the bulbils? Here’s my final, not-so-final, wishy-washy answer to predicting the future.

Is Your Garden Boring? (The Food-Forest Solution)

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Has winter exposed your garden as a bunch of boring rectangles and squares? Do you wish it more replicated real life, running in circles? There is help for people like us. Work WITH nature to transform your labor-intensive squares into a self-supporting food forest.

First Sprouts of Garlic!

Mid-February and the garlic is UP! Tallest in the patch is the Chinese Pink, a Turban variety, but all varieties are making a showing. These hardy little bulbs can handle the rough weather ahead. Just be careful with the mulch!

A Somewhat Unconventional Garlic Garden

I tried a little unconventional approach to this year’s garlic garden. I built the beds in a series of circles around nitrogen-fixing shrubs and a meandering form that looks a lot like my life – er, I mean, a whirligig. Whatever. I was lost.

Garlic Planting Planner

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Having trouble figuring out how much garlic you can plant in your garden? Or maybe how much garden you need to plant all your garlic? I’ve created a little tool in Excel that will do all the math for you – leaving you more time to get down and get dirty in the garden! Check out the Barbolian Fields Garlic Planting Planner.

Barbolian Garlic Harvest 2011

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Our garlic harvest was a full month later than in some years, but yes – the garlic is in and hanging in the shed – AND THE GOOD NEWS IS: IT LOOKS FANTASTIC!

Self-Imposed Limitations, Sustainability, and Creatively Breaking Rules

I’ve hit a turning point. Actually, several of them. In the process, I’ve been examining my self-imposed limitations, my concept of sustainability, and why now is the best time to break a few rules. Another lengthy psycho-analysis post of how our gardens teach us much about life and visa versa – and what to do about it.

Garlic Under Snow

Snowstorm in the PNW! The garlic is under a blanket. Here’s a good recipe for a simple high-energy food mix for the birds.

How to Plant Garlic Bulbils

Here’s how I recently planted garlic bulbils – those little seed-like clusters in the scapes. Planting scapes is a great way to increase your crop at a low price. Can you still plant them? Yes, I think so, but you may want to wait for the snow to melt if you’re on the Olympic Peninsula! I am sure there will be warmer days ahead if you still need to get them in the ground.

Time Again to Plant Garlic

Frost is on the pumpkin and it’s time to plant garlic! I am going back to basics this year – keeping it simple. This post is all about planting garlic: planning, building beds, enriching the soil, planting, and mulching.

Every Soil Tells a Story

We delve deeper into the whys of a poor garlic crop this year, and although I highly suspect it was a combination of a long wet winter and spring, incessant strong winds, and too thick a mulch, I thought it might be a good idea to buy an NPK soil-test kit and see what the soil could tell me.

When All Else Fails, Buy Plants

A little retail therapy helped offset the dreary weather and having to face a very poor garlic crop. Sad day. Looking for some bright spots amidst a lot of bulbs that rotted in the ground. Looking for reasons why. Even after over 30 years of growing this stuff, gardening is always such a learning process, huh.

Scapes, Scallions, and the Scarcity of Spring

In this post, I confess to having a serious case of scape envy, based on reports I am getting from others whose garlic plants are already producing those delectable scapes. Want to know the difference between scapes, scallions, and “green garlic” and how elephant garlic fits in to this picture? I’ll try to unravel some of that for you. And if you’re wondering what to do with your scapes, stay tuned for my upcoming cookbook!

Pull Back the Mulch and Feed the Garlic!

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If you’ve tucked your garlic in under mulch for the winter, now is the time to pull back the blanket and let the sun shine in. Early spring is a time of intense change for the garlic plants, and when they first come up, they are hungry! Have pity and don’t make them search for food! This post is about the special needs of garlic in early spring and how to care for them.

Garlic Reconnects Old Friends and Makes New Ones

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Progress reports from Pennsylvania and the Mojave Desert: Barbolian garlic is thriving across the country! Plus a little philosophical wandering into how the Internet, gardens, and garlic can reconnect old friends and make new ones!

Garlic Is Coming On Strong!

The garlic is growing strong at Barbolian Fields! We applied a heavy layer of mulch at planting time, and it appears to have done a good job of protecting the bulbs from the series of winter freezes and thaws and also preventing erosion of the beds when we got a lot of rain. Looks like a good crop this year if all goes well!

Yes! You Can Still Plant Garlic!

It is not too late to plant garlic! This post discusses pros and cons of planting early or late. A detailed description is given on how to plant garlic, including planning, building beds, pre-plant techniques, spacing, and mulching. It is based on my over 30 years of growing garlic in the Northwest.

First Garlic Harvest Underway!

The garlic has matured a little early this year due to the warm weather. We are harvesting our first garlic nearly 2 weeks earlier than usual. When to water and when to harvest is always a balancing act when it comes to garlic.

Spring Cleaning in the Garlic Beds!

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Spring is a busy time to get the garden in shape before planting. Garlic is up and so are the weeds! Efforts now to get rid of the weeds will pay off with big garlic bulbs later! Also time to fertilize the garlic with a little side-dressing of blood meal for a nitrogen boost. Seaweed and fish fertilizer foliar sprays also strengthen the plants. Raised beds are a real advantage to early growth.

Welcome Back Garlic!

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Welcome back New Garlic Shoots! Welcome back Garlic Lovers! It’s only February, and the garlic looks rather naked and vulnerable out there.