Garlic!

Our parkway guerrilla garden, profiled in last week’s Los Angeles Times article, which is now linked on BoingBoing, yielded up an impressive garlic harvest this season.

Garlic is one of the easiest crops for us to grow here in Southern California. You just take the large, outer ring of cloves from store-bought garlic and stick them in the ground with the pointed side up interspersed throughout your other plantings–wherever you have some room. We plant them around Thanksgiving and harvest in late May/early June when the stalks begin to turn brown and fall over. After you harvest your garlic, don’t wash it just knock the dirt off, then let it “cure” with the stalks and roots intact in a dry place inside until the stalks are entirely brown. Premature cutting of stalks or roots can lead to rot. After your garlic is dry then you can trim it to just the bulbs and store it somewhere cool and dark (not the fridge!). We’re going to put ours in a double brown bag in our strange subterranean garage–a cellar or basement would also work.

With our mild winters and warm summers, California is the ideal place to grow garlic, but there are special varieties for cold climates that you can mail order. The University of Minnesota Extension has a nice page on growing garlic in cold places.

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9 Comments

  1. I’m SO glad I found your site. I am having such a nice evening exploring it, and am completely sucked in. It all makes my heart so very HAPPY! Thanks for your time, passion and inspiration!

  2. SO, i should’ve talked to you cats at BEA but didn’t even know your book existed to a blog compared mine to yours. Hell yes, homesteading! I’d love to send ya a galley of mine, perhaps we can trade or i could still add you to my resources section?

  3. thanks for the helpful information about garlic.

    all over my little korean village there’s mounds and mounds of garlic heaped up. i’ve been wondering why the stalks and roots haven’t been cut off yet — your post answered that perfectly and i didn’t even have to mangle the korean langauge to find out. thanks!

  4. Stupid question… how deep are you supposed to plant the clove of garlic? Completely covered?

    Also, do you end up yielding an entire head or just 1 or 2 additional clove?

    Can’t wait till I get a book from you. Thanks!

  5. I absolutely LOVE the idea of planting garlic in the parkway. Do you find that the garlic discourages dogs and cats from doing their business in the parkway?

    I’m thinking of planting garlic all along the parkway perimiter to see if it deters our four-legged friends. I was considering society garlic for this purpose – but culinary garlic would be even better, right? ;^)

  6. Hey guys, just got hungry for shallots and realized it’s time to start thinking about ordering and planting alliums. Do you just use garlic and/or shallots from the store or do you get specific varieties (and if so, there are so many kinds of garlic – what kind?)
    Also for onions. From seed or from starts?
    Wish y’all could swing by and check out my fantastic front yard garden! It’s pretty sweet!
    Joan

  7. @Joan:

    Hey there! The easiest thing is to pick up untreated garlic or shallots at the farmer’s market and just plant those. Specialty ordering gives you better variety, but at high cost. Don’t make Erik’s mistake of buying the kind of garlic sold in every store for premium prices! (he said to say that). We’ve heard good things about a variety called Music. Neighbor Lora grew hard necked garlic this year and it did very well.

    We haven’t grown onions for a long time–we’re hardly experts. That’s one of those crops we’ve decided to just buy because they take up a lot of good garden real estate with fairly low returns (as compared to crops which we consider “high value”). All I can say is make sure you get the right variety for our climate (short day? long day?) whether you use seeds or starts–but you probably know that already. Sorry I couldn’t be of more help.

  8. To get bulbs on your onions, you have to plant seeds of short-day varieties. Most, but not all sets are long-day onions and won’t bulb in So. Cal. Plant the seeds in early November.

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