Friday, March 27, 2015

How's Your Garlic Growing?

If you planted hardneck and softneck planting garlic (cloves) last fall then you're also watching the plant leaves emerge with gusto these past days and weeks. Isn't it a joyful sight?  Garlic is easy to plant, and more fun watching it grow until harvest than the final fireworks crescendo on the 4th of July at Boston Harbor (hum 1812 Overture). That might be an exaggeration but there's something indescribable about walking out to the garden every day or twice a day on the weekend and eyeing those solid green shoots soar above a blanket of snow! Other gardeners might have fall planted 'Bloomsdale' spinach growing under a thick layer of mulch just ready for a tasty spritzing of shallot vinaigrette (please invite me over), but we have garlic stems, psueudostems and leaf blades to keep our attention...and wait until the scapes show up in May! Yowza!!  Ring the bells and pull out the blender for garlic scape pesto...ding, ding, ding, ding, ding!!!

Late March 2015
Okay, back to earth and the garlic check. Your garlic plants should be up or at least emerging if you live along the Front Range.  Higher elevations may be a couple of weeks behind.  Their moisture level should be okay from the recent mid-week rain/snow.  But it is dry out there so keep an eye and finger under your mulch to gauge whether you need to hook up the hoses and give them a deep drink. They need regular watering until a few days before harvest, not wet, more like a well wrung out sponge.  And renew the mulch if needed.  Mulch maintains soil temperatures and keeps moisture in and weeds out (or at least easier to pull).  I use shredded leaves from the fall and have several back up bags just for renewing the garlic and the other raised beds. Beds that are mulched all winter don't have to endure that horrible freeze/thaw/crack/peel/blow away cycle.  Plus once you remove the mulch in the spring to plant your lettuce or tomatoes (later in May), the soil is ready to go - nice and soft from being tucked in all fall and winter under a thick bed of mulch. 

If by chance we start getting lots of spring moisture it's a good idea to remove the mulch around the garlic to prevent any mold problems or slugs. 

Late March Snow 2015

There's nothing that needs to be done until about mid-April and again in May.  I like to spray all the plants twice with a diluted solution of water and fish emulsion. This gives them a little dose of nitrogen and generally helps with any yellow tips on the leaves. 

Then it is wait for the scapes - the gorgeous flower stalks that form on the hardneck varieties. Bulb harvest won't be until until June or early July.  I'll leave it here for now and pick up another writing when the scapes arrive.  In the meantime enjoy the daily stroll to check on your rocamboles and purple stripes.  It's not too soon to memorize the recipe for 40 Clove Garlic Chicken from The Stinking Rose Restaurant in San Francisco.

 Spring Crop a Few Years Ago

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