Friday, February 13, 2015

Planting Garlic in the Garden

In a better-late-than-never moment, I finally planted my garlic a couple of weeks ago. As you've probably heard, California is having a crazy drought and, as a result, my gardening efforts have really dwindled. Where I live, we have really strict water rationing, and there really isn't any water to be spared. We have a bucket in the shower for catching the extra water as the water gets hot, and that's about all that gets used for watering the garden these days.

future garlic bulbs!

However, there is one exception: my beloved garlic. You can't really skip a year with garlic, because every year you take the biggest, plumpest cloves and use those as the seeds for next year's bulbs. I've blogged about my sentimental garlic in the past - but this strain has been going continuously for at least 20 years by now. First grown by my dad's dad, then he gave some to my mom's dad, who grew them until he died, and now I am growing it.

garlic bulbs in a row, with Mom's muddy hands in the background
I love you, Mom!

My mom came over and brought some seriously high-class compost along to fortify the weary soil in my raised beds. We had a great time weeding and adding the new soil and tilling it in. Then we selected our favorite cloves and planted them about 6 inches apart in rows. While we were at it, we did lots of pruning and weeding together in the front yard - which was quite overdue. My mom is a gardening dynamo and her favorite thing of all is pruning. She just whacks off the dead growth like no one's business! It's awesome.

garlic family tree

After we planted my crop - about 65 cloves - I also gave my mom about 25 cloves that she went home and planted in her raised beds. This is great because it takes the pressure off of me! I think my aunt Laura still has some of the garlic too - so now there are a few of us carrying on this sacred strain of garlic. This year I noticed more big, robust cloves than I've had in the past... so I am optimistic for some good heads of garlic next year.

Since we planted, we had one weekend of rain (huzzah!), and then lots of sunshine... and look what's happened already!!! I just took this picture yesterday and I couldn't believe it! I didn't even think to imagine that the garlics would be this tall already, but I happened to be in the front yard and look who caught my eye! So exciting. Some of them are already 4 inches tall.

Garlic has shallow roots, so growing garlic requires frequent water (since the roots can 't grow too deep to find water) and also frequent weeding (to remove the competition). "Requires frequent weeding and frequent watering" hardly sums up my usual approach to gardening, but in this one 4x6 patch of my garden, I'll make an exception.


  1. Neat! I'd love to try growing garlic! I'm such a bad gardener though. We grow peppers every year, and since I hate gardening, I often skip watering for a week or more. It's no wonder my plants always die. Sigh ...

  2. MIne have sprouted too! It's practically instant gratification.

  3. How special to have the same garlic after so many years :)

  4. Wow. I am so jealous that you could possibly be planting in February! The mountain of snow outside my house just does not believe it. :)

  5. Look at those babies grow! I love the story behind them :)

  6. Wow I am very jealous of your good garlic! Every plant ever to enter my apartment has died a sad death, as my fiancé and I are truly no good with plants. But I'd love to have an abundant stash of big beautiful cloves! At our local bodega, the heads of garlic are super small and they hardly ever have the nice big heads with some flecks of purple. When I find myself in a whole foods I snatch up as many as I can carry!


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