Garlic is widely popular for adding flavor to sauces, stews, soups, and much more! Garlic contains chemical compounds that reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease and that help lower blood pressure!
There are two main types of garlic: softneck (silverskin and artichoke) and hardneck (rocambole, purple stripe, and porcelain) . Softneck garlic is most common simply because it is easy to grow and keeps longer. It offers a nice mild flavor and is the type you find in most grocery stores. Hardneck garlic has fewer but much larger cloves per bulb than softneck types. As it grows it produces a stalk called a “scape.” Scapes can be harvested and used for cooking before the garlic itself is actually harvested. It is a very richly flavored garlic, generally stronger tasting than softneck. Hardneck garlic is most closely related to wild garlic, and is more winter hardy than softneck garlic for fall plantings. Finally, elephant garlic is not a true garlic, but actually a variant of the garden leek species.
Because garlic is a member of the allium family, gardeners who grow onions can easily grow garlic since the culture is similar and requires very little space in the garden. Garlic cloves should be planted in a sunny location, 3 – 4" deep, 6 -8” apart (Elephant) or 4” apart (Soft Neck) in fall, about 4-6 weeks before the first hard freeze in order to establish roots. Set the clove in the hole, pointed side upward, root end down. It can also be planted early in the spring, after the ground warms to about 50° F. Later spring planting is not successful. It is best to plant in light, sandy soil that has been improved with compost or manure. Soil pH should be in the 6.5-7 range. Fertilizing the soil 1-2 times during the growing season with a 5-10-10 fertilizer will permit full leaf development. It has been found that long days and warm temperatures favor bulb development. Harvest in mid-summer, July, when leaves begin to yellow. Store in cool, dry conditions.
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