Garlic is a bulb crop that is planted into the ground in late fall to overwinter, then is harvested in mid July of the next year. The reason for this is because garlic requires two months of temperatures below 40F degrees to induce bulbing, which is growth of a new bulb. This process is called a cold treatment. On the farm we plant hard-neck garlic, verses a soft neck garlic.
Garlic seed comes from the years garlic harvest usually if seed is viable and healthy. The very cloves that we eat are the next seasons seed. Every year at harvest we set aside the nicest and largest bulbs for planting. We select bulbs like this because here the size is a very important factor, the bigger the cloves the bigger the bulb we are potentially able to produce in the next season. Bulbs are broken up into the individual cloves right before planting.
The next steps to garlic planting is bed and field prep, just as we would normally do with cover crops. We plow, fertilize and harrow the land to prep the field. Next we use a bed shaper to make a raised bed for planting; this is a new tactic we are trying this year to see if this will improve bulb size, growth and water penetration. We are hoping the end result will be a better quality product when it's time to harvest. The final steps for planting prep is marking out the spacings to plant. We use our plastic transplanter and set up a system of three rows with 6" between seeds. This gives us a good template to have a uniform planting.
Next we plant! One clove facing right side up in each hole, one at a time. We use a soil knife to create a hole, then plant the garlic clove in about an inch into the soil.
After garlic is placed into their holes/slots in the raised beds we go over the top with a rack to brush soil into the garlic holes.
The last and final step in the garlic planting process is to cover the beds with straw. It protects the seed and soil from winds, very cold temperatures (in case the cloves start to sprout), and weed suppression in the spring/summer.
Now we wait until spring to watch the garlic sprout up out of the straw.
Many thanks Trevor and Kaitlyn for your generous help!
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