Growing Garlic (Part One)

This will be a tale told in multiple parts — partly because it’s lengthy, and I want to be sure not to leave anything out, but also because it’s a tale that is not yet complete.

The short-short version: my house gave me garlic!

The longer version: I had spent all spring since our early-April move in amazement at all the plants and flowers that were coming up in my flower beds. Multiple varieties of hyacinth, daffodils and narcissus, a tree peony and herbaceous peonies, several rosebushes, chives, allium, daylilies… I could keep going. So, when these interesting little curly-cues started emerging from my flower beds in late June, I was curious but unsurprised to see something else I didn’t recognize.

Garlic Topset

Sarah, one of my Instagram followers, commented, “I might be crazy, but I bet if you pull one of those up you’ll find a garlic bulb at the other end. ;)”

So, I did a little research, and sure enough, it looked like I was growing hardneck garlic!

The info I found also said that late June was not garlic harvesting time, though, so I held off on actually digging one up until July 21st (which was still a little early, but I couldn’t wait).

Hardneck Garlic

(It was super bright outside, so I didn’t see until later that some of my photos had been out of focus.)

This was what I first dug up, right by my back door, in amongst the ground cover and the butterfly bush. So tiny! But it’s definitely garlic.

Washed Garlic

Although the websites I’d found said that the storage life of garlic could be shortened by washing the dirt off (potentially leaving it moist and susceptible to various icky things that like moisture), I felt like I had to wash my garlic and make it pretty. Plus, I was still skeptical on some level that it was really garlic, for some reason. It’s teeny-tiny, but it looks like garlic to me! Smells like it, too.

Garlic Heads and Topsets

The five garlic heads and topsets I harvested and washed were then laid on a paper towel on the kitchen counter to dry completely. Each entire head was the size of one normal-sized clove; I assumed that it was due to the early harvest. (Actually, it was probably the fact that they were so closely spaced and had to compete for resources with each other and the surrounding plants.)

Finally, I had to peel one and see what was inside.

Tiny Garlic Cloves

I found a thick stem and three tiny garlic cloves! I peeled one of the cloves and took a nibble — I thought it was mighty strong, but then again, I don’t generally nibble on fresh garlic cloves. Homegrown garlic is supposed to be milder than commercial.

Three days later, I harvested most of the garlic that was growing in odd places like flower beds in the back yard. Those I hung to dry in the garage. They were all still very small, so I opted to wait a while longer before harvesting the rest, to see if they would get any bigger.

Garlic Harvest

In retrospect, this was the best batch I harvested. The outer layers were still intact, none of the bulbs had started to separate, and they were all easy to clean by peeling off the outer layer.

There was another batch yet to harvest, and this batch still had to hang and cure in my garage for a few weeks… but that’s a story for another day.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *