Planting garlic - a how to, complete with horrible photos!

Last year I bought my seed garlic from Azure Standard (Bair Organics, Killarney Hardneck).  A little bit about this garlic from Azure's website:

A very good producer. It has thin pink bulb wrappers with lots of purple and brown. 8-9 easily peeled cloves in a bulb up to 2 1/2".  When growing,it is better adapted to wetter conditions than most others.

It was pretty spendy ($16 for 1 pound), but the results were great!  I basically planted them and ignored them for 10 months, and they produced wonderful results.  Plant, ignore, and harvest?  That is my favorite kind of crop!  This year after drying (curing) my garlic, I decided to forgo purchasing new seed garlic, and am going to plant the biggest, healthiest bulbs from the crop that I harvested in August.  We'll see.  It could bomb. It could be awesome. But what is gardening other than gambling every time you plant something in the ground.

Farmer's markets (if they're still happening in your area that is) are great places to get great local seeds.  It is not too late to plant garlic in some zones; my zone, zone 8 being one of them!

Today I'm talking about how to plant your own garlic.  The photos are AWFUL, I apologize, but the light is getting wonky in this fall season, and I have limited planting time and it's during the time of day when photos are the worst.  You're welcome!  

There are essential two types of garlic - hardneck and softneck.  Hardneck "keeps" (stores) for a shorter amount of time, but is wicked easy to plant, and gives you scapes in summer, which seems like bonus garlic to me.

Softneck stores better for longer periods of time, but can be a bit more fussy.  Confused about which to plant?  Try both if you have the space!

Prepare your space
This area had peas and beets planted here over the spring/summer.  I broke up the soil, and added some fresh dirt that I have in a pile in my driveway.  I also put a sprinkler on low for about 20 minutes because Seattle has had a record dry spell, and just surpassed the driest August and September ever on record.  We've gone something like 81 days with almost no measurable rain.  Hot damn!

After doing all that, I made little slots about 2 inches deep, and 2 inches apart from each other.  I just used a little hand trowel.  Overexposed, and blurry?  Yowzer.

Here is my "seed" garlic.

Break apart the cloves, trying your best to keep them wrapped in their papery covers.

Hold the garlic so the pointy end is pointing towards the sky.  Bad picture again.  Shut up, I know.

Put one clove in the the prepared hole so that the pointy end remains pointing up.  You might have to push it down a little bit.

Cover with soil, then cover with mulch of some sort.  The mulch keeps the weeds down over the fall, winter, spring, and until harvesting next summer.  It also holds in the moisture if you live in a dry area, and keeps the soil from washing away if you live in my neck of the woods.

And now, comes my favorite part.  Ignore those suckers until March or April of next year.  At that point, you'll need to do a little weeding, and then you get to ignore them again until August!  Because this is such a long-growing crop, please keep in mind that where you are planning to plant the garlic will be out of commission for essentially the whole next growing season.

There you have it, you're done.  You're now a garlic farmer/gardener.  For about one hour of work, you get more garlic than you'll know what to do with.  Perhaps some roasted garlic and baked brie in puff pastry? 

Don't mind if I do.

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