Growing Next Level Garlic in Maine

Half my growing area every season is given over to the cultivation of garlic (allium sativum). I plant mine in compost enriched raised beds and I prefer the stiff neck type. I enjoy the variety MUSIC, which is both sharp and mild and has about four large cloves in each head of garlic, making it easy to use.

Garlic, like all of the allium family are essentially bulbs. Like a tulip bulb, garlic is planted in the fall at a depth of about 3 to 4 inches and 5 to 6 inches apart. I then cover the garlic beds with a thick layer of straw to protect them from the winter cold as well as the thaws.

It’s always encouraging to see the first green shoots of garlic poke forth before most anything else in Springtime.

When I’m convinced that the weather has warmed and settled, off comes the straw and the garlic shoots quickly thicken. We enjoy using the young, or green, garlic in stir frys and other preparations.

About mid-June it’s time to cut off the curly scapes, which resemble goosenecks. These would develop into a blossom if not cut. The idea is to send the energy of the growing plant downwards to increase the size of the bulb, not divert it upward into flowers and seeds.

About the third week of July, it’s time to pull the garlic out and let it dry in an airy place, eventually clipping the stem off for storage. The fun of growing your own garlic and superior flavor far exceed anything grown commercially

Garlic may be used fresh, cooked, stored, pickled or fermented. Black garlic, which is fermented, and essential in Korean cuisine, is gaining in popularity for reasons of unique umami flavors and health benefits.

Try something unique and satisfying and try planting some garlic yourself this Autumn! You’ll be glad you did.

Beware Vampires!