It has been many years since I have gone to a store or market to buy garlic to cook with.
Garlic is an easy crop to grow if you get the timing right. In the Wishetwurra Farm 7a/7b planting zone, right timing means planting individual cloves in the fall.
The first day of October is a often-recommended day, though if you delay, little harm is done. I got good results this year with my friend Richard’s “stiff-necked german”, planted last November twenty-first. Harvest time this year was late in the second week of July.
Plant that clove from a garlic bulb in the fall, and before too many weeks go by, a little green shoot appears at soil level. Once above ground, it grows until freezing temperatures stop photosynthesis. Underground, the roots continue to establish themselves, as long as the soil is not frozen. Before hard frost sets in for good, I’ll mulch my plantings to keep down weeds and to moderate soil temperature extremes. The following spring, as soon as light returns and temperatures rise, growth begins again. By May, it’s tall enough that people who don’t know garlic will marvel at how tall your corn is, and so early!
Two years ago there was a clove of garlic dropped at the edge of the garden. I left it alone. As in, I never even noticed it. This year it made seven sprouts and seven blossoms. This year I did notice. A few days ago, I pulled up the clump to see what had been going on underground.
There were seven fine garlic bulbs.
Fascinating. Garlic planting directions always say to plant cloves six to nine inches apart in long rows. Next Fall I’m going to experiment with planting multiple cloves, even entire bulbs, in single locations spaced a foot apart, to see if concentrated planting might be a way to grow more garlic in much less space.
I usually cut garlic scapes off, on the theory that without a flower and seeding to support, the plant sends more energy to the developing bulb. But I’d left the scapes on these plants.
The scapes escaped!
These scapes I’d left contained a bonus.
Inside the papery sheath of each flower was a mass of solid little garlic bulblets.
Here are some of the bulbils, dissected out.
Some of the bulbils were so enthusiastic that they, too, were sending up wee flowers.
It makes me think of the infinite tunnel that appears when you look at yourself in a mirror that’s reflected in another mirror.