12 lbs of garlic grown by Lori in the school garden she maintains.
by Lori Krishnan
1) Garlic needs full sun. Don't bother placing your bulbs in a north-facing bed. That extra shade from your house or a nearby bush will make a huge difference in production.
2) Garlic needs compost and drainage. A soil with a good amount of compost will produce big bulbs. Good drainage will prevent mold and ease bulb formation.
3) Pull or cut those scapes (flower buds) while they're still coiled. If you don't, your garlic will put a lot of its energy into making flowers and not into making garlic cloves. (Scapes are edible.)
4) Wait to dig your garlic until three leaves are completely brown and dried. Any earlier, and you won't have many cloves or many layers of skin on the bulb.
5) Give your garlic time to dry. Our humid Mid-Atlantic weather makes drying tricky (surprise, surprise!). So give those bulbs a few weeks before braiding or storing in your pantry. Better yet, turn on a box fan near the drying garlic to improve air circulation.
6) To dry the garlic, lay it out so that the bulbs are in a single layer. Leaves can overlap once to increase your drying space. If you layer, definitely use a fan to maximize air circulation.
7) The drying racks don't need to be anything special, but grates, racks or screens are ideal. Mine were jerryrigged from an unused metal shelf and a toddler bed spring held up by ladder rungs and an oversized storage tub. It wasn't pretty, but it worked.
8) If it looks moldy and gray: throw it away. That old advice about one bad apple spoiling the whole bunch applies to garlic as well.
Lori Krishnan is a Grow a Row FC grower and mentor. So far this year, she's donated 35 pounds of produce, including an entire pillow case full of radishes.
<-- Lori's mom helping prep the garlic in the school garden.