Winter Plans for Summer Garlic

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Apparently I’m the last to do anything, ever, always. Like my last minute plans to grow garlic. While everyone is planting their bulbs in the fall, I’m spending my Christmas and New Year’s holiday mucking around in the rain planting rows of belatedly purchased bulbs. I started out in the fall thinking, eh, I will just do garlic next year. Then I had this mental image of myself eating a mountain of home grown garlic, and then I rushed out to buy a bazillion bulbs (roughly a dozen in Gingi-speak).
It’s not entirely my fault that I’ve got a late crop planted. I was under the impression that garlic simply MUST be in the ground early fall and any later would result in a sterile crop. Apparently garlic is a hardy superstar that can be planted into late winter in the Central Valley. The realization of this fact, coupled with the fact that I am a garlic eating fiend (I will roast a whole head of garlic and eat the whole frikkin thing like its candy) made me think planting a row.. or two.. or three.. might not be a bad idea.
Also, I hear it’s hard to kill. Which is awesome for me, since my garden last year had a 50% failure rate. (Though in my defense, it was the neighborhood vermin that sheared off all my leafy greens before they had a chance to be people food.)
While I’ve always been a fan of the flavor and medicinal / nutritional properties of garlic, I have only recently been made aware of the fascinating history and complexity of garlic on a botanical level. Garlic is a plant that is prehistoric, and the more you study its composition and qualities, it’s not difficult to imagine this plant growing at the dawn of time.

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Each bulb is a clone of some fantastically old mother bulb that has grown, and regrown, and multiplied its original cells for millennia. While most plant seeds are like temporary resting places for plant DNA, bulbs like garlic are even more spectacular. They don’t pass on their ancient memories, they ARE their ancient memories! To quote Ron Engeland, There are awesome traces of human history bundled beneath the bulb wrappers, each wrapper like a giant step through time toward the very origins of cultivated food plants on our planet.
Garlic has a memory much like wine grapes, and fine garlic – like fine wine – is an art.
Working at the Farmers Market, I look at these skilled, passionate farmers who have dedicated their lives to raising fine foods, and I feel like embarking on a project like growing heirloom and gourmet garlic is beyond me. I’m not a trained botanist or food scientist. I’m not a farmer and I am barely a gardener in that I have something vaguely resembling a garden in my back yard. But it was ordinary people that cultivated garlic in the wild and eventually evolved it into its modern condition.. so perhaps it’s fitting that a beginner and an amateur like me should attempt to tackle the phenomenon of great garlic? (I can doooo eeet!!!)
When not giving myself pep talks and trolling for inspirational garden quotes on Pinterest, I have received a lot of encouragement, support and information from Kyle at KMK Organic Farm in Kingsburg, California. Kyle sells at our Saturday morning Visalia Farmers Market, and even though his booth is buzzing with crowds, he always takes the time to answer my questions – no matter how silly! – and lend advice and know-how for gardening and backyard farming.

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There is very little written about the cultivation of garlic, specifically concerning the regional differences in climate, soil, and latitude, so speaking to a local organic farmer who plants acres of organic garlic varieties in the Central Valley is a huge blessing. Kyle also stocked me up with some of his organic California Early White softneck garlic!
In addition to the California Early from KMK Farm, I also purchased some heirloom organic (both hardneck and softneck) garlic from Filaree Farms in Washington State. The varieties I’ve started with this year include: Purple Glazer, Georgian Crystal, French Mild and Red Toch.

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While I am blessed to have some great local resources and support in my gardening endeavors, I know full well that hands on experience in the garden is still the best way to gather knowledge. Here’s what I’ve gone in my garlic garden so far:
– I tilled the raised beds where I planned to plant my garlic, and worked in some fresh organic hummus and compost into the top 4 inches of soil.
– I separated the cloves from the bulb heads, and then planted the cloves in rows by type, 1 inch into the soil and spaced 6 inches apart.
– I didn’t lay down a mulch cover since the danger of frost isn’t a threat in the Central Valley.
– About a week after my garlic was snugly planted, I started noticing bright green sprouts working out of the ground. My dog and cat have both taken to digging up portions of my garlic beds, and even being uncovered and replanted numerous times, all of the cloves are still growing, letting out long tendrils of white roots, and thriving.
So now… we wait! I’ll keep you guys posted on my garlic beds come spring and summer!

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Are you a fan of garlic? Share below!

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Gingi Freeman
Gingi Freeman
Gingi is a photographer, cosplayer, amateur chef, crazy cat lady, anime otaku, bookworm, generic geek, world traveler, conservative Christian, homeschooler, devoted military wife and stay at home new mother of two little girls.

Gingi blogs about anything and everything that is relevant to being a supermom, stay at home wife, homeschooler and geek girl! You can contact her at gingifreeman@gmail.com or via the contact form on her website at www.domesticgeekgirl.com

Gingi Freeman

Gingi is a photographer, cosplayer, amateur chef, crazy cat lady, anime otaku, bookworm, generic geek, world traveler, conservative Christian, homeschooler, devoted military wife and stay at home new mother of two little girls. Gingi blogs about anything and everything that is relevant to being a supermom, stay at home wife, homeschooler and geek girl! You can contact her at gingifreeman@gmail.com or via the contact form on her website at www.domesticgeekgirl.com

59 thoughts on “Winter Plans for Summer Garlic

    • 6 January, 2016 at 1:13 am
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      I am going to try to blog about garlic more in the spring and summer… love sharing info gleaned! <3

    • 6 January, 2016 at 2:53 pm
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      <3

  • 6 January, 2016 at 1:35 am
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    I’ve never grown garlic, but my Dad did this past summer and had tremendous success. This is what I love about gardening – the anticipatory waiting:)

    • 6 January, 2016 at 2:56 pm
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      Oh, thats good to hear! I havent heard too many garlic gardening disaster stories, so there may be hope for me! lol!

  • 6 January, 2016 at 1:54 am
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    Fascinating and impressive, darling!
    I loooooove garlic 🙂

    xoxox,
    CC

    • 6 January, 2016 at 2:56 pm
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      Me tooo! <3

  • 6 January, 2016 at 2:44 am
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    The pictures are beautiful. I’m certainly a fan of garlic, and growing it yourself is so awesome.

    • 6 January, 2016 at 2:57 pm
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      Yeah, if all goes according to plan, I SHOULD have about 50-70 heads of garlic. Sad to say, by the time I save back 20 heads for a fall crop, 30 to 50 heads of garlic is NOT enough for my familys garlic appetite, lol

  • 6 January, 2016 at 3:21 am
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    Gingi, if this garlic works out for you I will plant some this Spring… I love garlic…yummy xox ♡

    • 6 January, 2016 at 2:59 pm
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      Ohhhh, yes! I will keep you posted for sure!!

    • 6 January, 2016 at 3:00 pm
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      <3 For sure!

  • 6 January, 2016 at 8:11 am
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    I bought a book about growing herbes last year. I need to plant something! It looks so great to have your own herbes.

    • 6 January, 2016 at 3:02 pm
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      I dont really have much luck with herbs!! I always get the watering needs wrong, haha

    • 6 January, 2016 at 3:03 pm
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      Yeah, meals always taste better when its a labor of love!

    • 6 January, 2016 at 3:03 pm
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      <3

    • 6 January, 2016 at 3:03 pm
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      I will keep you guys posted for sure!

    • 6 January, 2016 at 9:59 pm
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      Hahaha, my thumb is somewhere between green and brown… sooo.. pukey lime colored??

  • 6 January, 2016 at 4:35 pm
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    I have never grown garlic. How awesome! Maybe I should. I cannot wait to see your little seedlings grow and then see the slew of recipes and posts you share about how to use the garlic!

    • 6 January, 2016 at 9:59 pm
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      So far it seems crazy easy!

    • 6 January, 2016 at 10:00 pm
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      <3

  • 7 January, 2016 at 12:04 am
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    Really? There is such a thing as a ‘garlic vintage’? That is totally fascinating and – geeky 🙂 Thanks for the words of wisdom, Gingi. Can’t wait to see more of these bulbs.

    • 7 January, 2016 at 4:25 pm
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      Yeah, it is interesting to think that we look for specific varieties of grapes and apples.. but we just think generic garlic!

    • 7 January, 2016 at 4:25 pm
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      I know, Im enthralled!

    • 7 January, 2016 at 4:26 pm
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      <3

    • 7 January, 2016 at 4:30 pm
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      I agree!!

    • 7 January, 2016 at 4:31 pm
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      Thanks! <3

  • 7 January, 2016 at 6:20 pm
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    I love garlic, but I honestly had no idea there were different types. Good luck growing them!

    • 8 January, 2016 at 4:55 pm
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      There are HUNDREDS… in all sizes and colors! Its crazy how different they can be!

  • 7 January, 2016 at 8:25 pm
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    Oh my I can’t wait to see how beautiful it will look in Spring time) I actually grew garlic once and it was a success (for a person who absolutely don’t have a green thumb) so I am sure your garlic flower bed will be the best! Keep collecting those recipes, you’ll use it everywhere)

    • 8 January, 2016 at 4:57 pm
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      I have high hopes for my garden if ONLY I can keep the dog, cat and rodents away!! lol

  • 7 January, 2016 at 11:43 pm
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    Great information here, thanks! I’ve been meaning to plant garlic, but have not yet! I have huge plans for our garden this spring and hopefully they happen!

    • 8 January, 2016 at 4:59 pm
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      You should blog about your garden more! Id love to see it!!

  • 8 January, 2016 at 2:55 pm
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    I’m embarrassed by how much garlic I eat Gingi! But it packs so much flavor minus the calories. Love these garden pics. So cute. And LOVE the raised beds. Who knew garlic could be adorable =)

    • 8 January, 2016 at 5:03 pm
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      LOL, same… one week I went through 7 heads of garlic, all by myself.. haha!

  • 8 January, 2016 at 3:04 pm
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    Garlic is the best! I eat garlic almost everyday. And yes, I love whole roasted garlic. It’s like butter! Only better. Thanks for the fascinating history lesson, I learned something new. 🙂

    • 8 January, 2016 at 5:04 pm
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      Same here! Its an essential in our household!

  • 10 January, 2016 at 12:49 am
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    This is awesome! Garlic is so important in or diet, can’t imagine cooking without it…

    • 11 January, 2016 at 3:42 am
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      Right?! I use it in almost every meal.. I usually add it to recipes that dont call for it haha

    • 13 January, 2016 at 4:25 pm
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      <3

  • 12 January, 2016 at 7:19 pm
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    Ugh. I’m terrible at gardening. Iv’e tried but the results have been less than so-so. I need to make a bigger effort. I bet your garlic garden would receive rave reviews from vampires slayers across the globe.

    • 13 January, 2016 at 4:26 pm
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      Thats me, the neighborhood gardener and slayer of creatures of the night. 😉

  • 14 January, 2016 at 8:50 pm
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    Aw that’s amazing! My parents do it the same in my hometown.. Lovely post, thanks for sharing!
    xx
    cvetybaby.com

    • 14 January, 2016 at 11:09 pm
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      Yeah? It seems garlic is the super easy crop!

  • 14 January, 2016 at 9:56 pm
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    Fascinating read.
    Hope your garlic goes / grows well

    All the best Jan

    • 14 January, 2016 at 11:09 pm
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      Me too!! haha!

  • 27 January, 2016 at 1:47 pm
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    I love garlic but I’ve never really had any success growing them. Maybe because I get too excited and start snipping at the tops too much or something. LOL You’re not the only one who’s late at planting garlic by the way. I only planted mine last week. LOL

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