Potential Projects

Monday, November 15, 2010

Planting Garlic

My mom is an amazing gardener.  When I was little, I would often ask if I could have a part of her garden for "my garden."  She was always open to that, but after planting carrots, potatoes, flowers, tomatoes and herbs, I would inevitably loose steam on the garden as I was distracted by other projects.  As weeds began their takeover of my garden, my mom would eventually decide to tackle the weeds before they invaded her garden.  Now that I'm a mom, I still want to garden, but I try to limit myself to things that are don't require too much work, and are tough to kill.  Fortunately, I don't have a yard, so I'm also limited to what I can plant in pots.

I've often read that garlic is easy to grow in pots, but I've never tried it.  I typically grow tomatoes and squash, along with peppers, which usually die.  Last spring I planted potatoes in my pots for the first time.  Sadly, as I struggled to keep up with working, parenting, and partnering full time, my potatoes, tomatoes, squash, and peppers took it on the chin.  But now I'm only working part-time, so I decided to give gardening another try.  And garlic seemed like a great option to start with, since you typically plant it in the fall.

So today I headed out to my driveway, where I keep my pots, and discovered to my surprise, that my potatoes actually survived my lack of watering!

Red potatoes grown in my pot!

So I dug them up, and decided to reuse this "lucky" pot for my garlic!  Yeah!  If you'd like to try this experiment with me, it took me about 10 minutes, and cost about a dollar.  So we won't loose much if it doesn't work.  Here's what I did:

Growing Garlic
After digging up the potatoes, I added more compost to the pot.  I then used my trowel to mix it all up.  I used Carpinito Farms organic compost, which is local here:

I then took a head of organic garlic (see notes below), broke off several cloves, and placed them on top of the potting soil, like so:

Make sure you keep them top up.  If you're like me, and your garlic often sprouts on the counter, you can visualize that little green shoot coming out of the top of the soil.  You can often also see the roots growing out of the bottom of the full head of garlic.  That's the part that should go down.

After spacing them nicely, push the cloves down about 1-2 inches into the soil, and gently cover with soil.  Water thoroughly.  

I've read Garlic takes about 8-9 months to grow.  So we should be able to harvest these guys next July or August.  Right in time to pair with juicy tomatoes!  But it should sprout fairly soon, so I'll keep you posted.

A couple notes about choosing garlic to plant:  Many sources recommend getting garlic at a gardening center.  I went to my local gardening store but they were out.  The very helpful  clerk informed me that she grows her own garlic without problems from garlic she gets at the grocery store.  But she told me to watch out for 2 things:  First, buy organic garlic.  Traditional garlic may be sprayed with a growth inhibitor to prevent the garlic from sprouting on its way from farm to market.  Not so good when you're trying to get it to sprout.  Second, make sure that your garlic isn't labeled as a copyrighted variety.  I'm not sure where this clerk shops, but she told me that her store labeled some varieties of garlic as copyrighted and she was concerned they might have a "terminal gene" so the garlic wouldn't sprout.  I haven't seen this, but consider yourself duly warned!  

Oh, and about those potatoes:

I'll try to figure out something easy and tasty to showcase their home grown deliciousness.  Stay Tuned!

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