I thought this was going to be a conclusion to my garlic self sufficiency project but I’ve realized its more like the half way mark, the big self sufficiency questions still remain : Did I grow enough garlic? Did I cure it properly to last all year? will my seed garlic produce enough to continue the cycle? for that matter Will my seed garlic produce at all?! Self sufficiency doubts aside, I was out this week on the most spectacular sunny warm fall day to plant 85 of my fines cloves of my own home grown garlic, like saving seeds from anything the best plants should give you the best seeds, in this case I reserved the biggest best heads for replanting. Last year I experimented with some different spacing and double rows but the results were inconclusive, the largest bulbs didn’t seem to emulate from any one specific spacing group, rather they seemed to come from the middle of the patch. I have noticed most of my food plants do the best near the centre of the garden, possibly due to more available water? Or less soil compaction? The whole food growing space is encircled with a hardscaped compacted paving stone path, and what plant (besides invasive mint and arugula) wants to get its roots under that.
Planting garlic is really straight forward on the west coast, it’s a natural fit for our wet climate. if your soil is not horrible don’t both fertilizing at the time of planting, after four years my garden soil is finally starting to look more like soil than sand box and so I am not fertilizing with the initial planting. Break the garlic heads into individual cloves leave their wrappers on (so they have a better chance of growing rather than going moldy) Plant pointy side up(root side down) just deep enough to cover the clove. This year I am spacing seed garlic cloves roughly six to ten inches on centers over a long triple row spanning the front of the garden. I was too lazy to put any kind of “what is this going to look like in June” thought into the garlic, now that I am thinking about it, the placement is a bit awkward. Oh well its already planted. Admittedly I am getting to the garlic planting a bit late in the season, I doubt I’ll see any little green garlic shoots until spring? In years where I planted garlic earlier it would send up shoots in the fall, die back to the ground in winter and regrow in spring, sprouting in fall or not sprouting in fall I didn’t notice had any effect on the yield.
I am also attempting to grow garlic from a garlic flower! Earlier this year a visitor to my blog suggested the idea, I was immediately intrigued and had to give this a try. Luckily I missed cutting off a single solitary garlic scape and it went on to make a garlic flower. Garlic first puts up a typical allium puffy globe blossom, like the familiar chive flowers we all know, left to their own devices garlic flowers will produce an array of minuscule garlic cloves. In the past I had simply saved these extra tiny seed head garlic cloves and used them for cooking after the main crop was consumed. I broke apart this tiny group of garlics and sprinkled them in a small patch about 12” in diameter, covered them up with soil and now we’ll have to wait and see what, if anything happens next year?