Planting garlic always seems counter-intuitive to me. Days are getting shorter and colder and yet we are prepping beds for planting. This is the first year we are able to plant our own garlic! Last year we got distracted by life and didn’t get to it.
Most folks don’t realize how many varieties and subvarieties of garlic exist in the world. Purchasing garlic at any average grocer it would be easy to assume that garlic just comes in one variety…the white bulbous kind. Some estimates reach as high as 600 sub-species! How does one even begin to choose what types of garlic to plant??
Luckily, we know a couple of local garlic aficionados that were more than happy to help! The Dick and Diana Dyer of Dyers Family Farm know a thing or two about garlic. This year alone they cultivated 40 varieties! They can describe in detail the difference between hard and softneck, porcelain and artichoke, intensity of heat vs. sweetness, etc. I explained to Dick that we wanted garlic that we could distribute to our Farm Share members, garlic we could save for seed next year, and garlic that stores pretty well for us to eat. He came up with a mix of hard and soft neck varieties. Softneck stores better which is why that is the general variety you find in the store.
Dick came up with (in descending order pictured above) German Extra Hardy, Kilarney Red, Kettle River Giant, Inchelium Red, Silver White and Spanish Rioja (not pictured). The seed garlic comes in large bulbs and the first step to planting is to break up the bulbs into their cloves. Each variety has a different number of cloves.
We had 2 100’x3′ beds ready for our garlic seed. Thanks to David, we had a great new tool to use that made dropping in the cloves a snap. We use a 6″ spacing between cloves and about 1′ between rows. Making 4 rows total. I wanted to give the garlic a bit more room to grow in hopes of yielding really healthy, large bulbs.
Stepping on the dibble tool was pretty quick and fun (despite the lovely weather).
Dropping the cloves in the holes is the best part of the process. Next time we see them they will have produced the first green shoots on the farm in the spring! Its always exciting to see that fist sign of life…
Surprisingly, this won’t be our last planting on the farm this fall. Raspberries, grapes and asparagus will arrive mid-November. It will be my first time planting grapes and am looking forward to learning more about them!
Check out the article that was written about the farm in the Manchester Enterprise!
They also followed up with an interesting piece about hoop houses in Washtenaw County.