Fall is the Time to Plant Garlic
Although garden centers often offer garlic for spring planting, you rarely get good results with garlic planted at that season. Garlic should instead be planted in the autumn, like a tulip bulb. Since, in the Northern Hemisphere, you’ll be harvesting garlic from late July to late August, depending on climate and maturation of the variety chosen, you just have to put a few bulbs aside from your previous harvest to plant a few weeks later. Break up the bulbs at planting time and replant the large cloves, using smaller ones for cooking. Plant the cloves pointy side up in a sunny spot and in well drained soil at a depth of about 4 inches (9 cm). This can be between late August and mid-October.
The best garlic for cold climates is hard stem garlic (Allium sativum ophioscordum). It’s not the commercial garlic, called soft-neck garlic (A. sativum sativum), that you see in supermarkets or braided into garlands in Italian restaurants. Soft-neck garlic doesn’t do well under the long summer days of the North and is usually only grown below the 37th parallel (i.e. south of Virginia in North America). Hard-neck garlic – the northern garlic – produces fewer but larger cloves than soft-neck garlic and has a stronger taste, so you can use less when cooking. Since you can’t braid the tough stems of hard-neck garlic, it is rarely used for decoration.
To store either type of garlic, dry the bulbs thoroughly and store in a cool but frost-free spot. Hard-neck garlic will keep 6 months or so before it starts to sprout; soft-neck up to 10 months, maybe even a year.
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