Garlic wins as Easiest, most Rewarding item to plant in the garden!

playhouse with geraniums

In 2014 I had geraniums around the playhouse. Today, I have lavender, roses and bleeding hearts because I find perennials easier than annuals.

Hi there! This post is about conveying that gardening doesn’t have to be an “all or nothing” past-time. We started out spending quite a bit of time in the garden (read: Every.Spare.Minute.). But as our family is growing-up, and our interests are growing (can you say that?), we are spending less time in the garden. Given how precious time is, it is important that we only grow what we have time to care for. That means that we grow what is easy!  And the top of that “easy to grow” list is garlic.

freshly harvested (Cristo) garlic

Freshly harvested organic Cristo garlic (from last summer)

I am still a stickler about not using chemicals in the garden, and I source organic seeds/plants. Fruit Hill Farm, based in Cork, has been a great resource for organic growing, and I’ve been quite happy with the garlic which they have provided. I’ve only used two varieties: Cristo and Vallelado. I like garlic that is planted in the fall and harvested in the summer. It is nice to have some growth in the garden over the winter, and it requires very little maintenance. The rewards are huge, as the taste of home grown garlic is far superior to store-bought garlic, if I do say so myself. 🙂

organic Vallelado Garlic label

Fruit Hill Farm, based in Cork, is where I buy my organic seeds and plants.

“Winter garlic” can be planted any time in the fall. The rule of thumb is to get your cloves in the ground before Christmas, to ensure (in Ireland) that they get enough time in soil that is cold enough. My husband enlisted the help of our youngest daughter to assist with planting. We’re using different beds for the garlic this year,  and since I had cleared the two beds of weeds following our pumpkin harvest a while back, they could set to work straight away.

bowl of garlic cloves on cleared planting bed

a bowl of organic garlic cloves and a prepared bed

My husband made the holes in the soil and my daughter placed in the cloves (pointy side up). It is nice to get the kids involved. (I hope they think so too!)

soil with holes for planting

not too difficult… although I hope they turned that clove pointy side up!

If you’d like more step-by-step instructions, you can click here to my earlier post about how easy it is to grow garlic. We planted Vallelado this year.  It is good for storing, which I can attest to. After harvesting and drying out in the summer, I keep mine in a paper bag in a closet in our (somewhat cold) utility room. It will last all winter long, and you will have plenty to give away to friends, too.

freshly planted garlic beds

Two freshly planted garlic beds.

garlic and geranium sitting on wall

a throwback to 2013 🙂

Sometimes, I can get all caught up in life in a too serious kind of way. This is never a good idea! There is something to be said about getting older and wiser, though. Thankfully, I do find myself recognizing when I’m getting a bit too serious, and I can work on changing gears. A lot of this has to do with balance, or being out of balance. You know: work/family/house/garden/…me! 🙂 And that is why we only plant the easy stuff in the garden!

wreath made with garlic, dried artichokes and dried roses

Garlic wreath with artichokes and roses

And if I find myself getting too serious, I go and make a wreath with anything and everything I can gather from the garden!!! Because inevitably, that puts a smile on my face.

Will you join me in planting garlic this fall? There are still a few more weeks left to do so!

In peace,

Growing garlic is easy peasy!

Organic Cristo Garlic (2013)

Organic Cristo Garlic (2013)

If you know me, you’ll know that I try to provide healthy food for my family.  While it was available to us, we were a part of an Organic Food Co-op during our years of living in Central New York. It was wonderful to get fresh, local, organic produce!  I do try to buy organic when possible (and not outrageously expensive).  My garden is one way I can provide fresh, healthy food for us.  I have to admit that I also try to encourage those around me to make healthy choices and choose organic when possible!  Along those lines, one item that I would encourage you to grow is garlic.  Do you know where your garlic comes from???  All I am going to say is that the healthiest garlic is sourced locally, and organically.  The best part is that garlic is very, very easy to grow!

Garlic in February

Garlic in February in very stony soil

Like my stony soil? There is a never ending supply of tiny stones in our soil!  Doesn’t seem to bother the vegetables, thankfully. … Back to the topic of Garlic! This year I planted my garlic in November. I first posted about it here:   The variety I received from a very helpful organic center called Fruit Hill Farm in Cork  was Vallelado, which is good for our Irish weather.

Organic Vallelado Garlic in February 2014

Organic Vallelado Garlic in February 2014

It was almost daily that I’d wander into the garden to see if the garlic was growing.  I wasn’t quite convinced it would grow in such cold weather! But grow it did.  Actually, I learned that garlic needs 6 weeks of cold weather (below 10 degrees Celsius or 50 degrees Fahrenheit) for the bulb to split into individual cloves.  Cold is good!  And some of you might be laughing and thinking “that isn’t cold”!

Garlic in March

Garlic in March

Here is the lowdown on growing garlic:

  • Source your garlic from an organic center near you.  They should have varieties suited to your climate.
  • Garlic needs full sun and well drained soil. It does best with soil that has compost worked in.
  • Space the cloves at least six inches apart. Place the cloves in the soil 3-4 cm (1 & 1/2  inches) below the surface with the pointy end facing up.
  • Keep the garlic moist until about a month before harvesting.
  • Weed regularly. Garlic like mulch.  Mulch will keep the weeds down and is especially helpful in colder climates.
  • Harvest when the stems go yellow.   Waiting for the stems to fall is too late!  It’s better to have dry bulbs at that stage, hence the stepping back from watering those last few weeks.  Dig gently around the bulb, shaking off any excess soil.
  • Keep the stems on to help keep the garlic fresh.  These can be braided, too, to hang the garlic in an open airy place. Dry outdoors if the weather is good, or inside if weather is wet.

According to Anne Gibson garlic shouldn’t be grown near peas or beans.  Do any of you have experience with that???  On the flip side (companion planting), as they are part of the Allium family they do well with raspberries, beetroot, strawberries, tomatoes, lettuce, & roses.

Garlic in March

Garlic in March

Organic Vallelado Garlic in April

Organic Vallelado Garlic in April

The garlic has given some life to the garden over the winter, which is so nice to see.  I know I haven’t harvested yet, but based on everything so far I would definitely plant in November again and keep it as my winter crop.

Organic Vallelado Garlic in April

Organic Vallelado Garlic in April

Easy, right?  If you don’t grow it already, I do hope you’ll give it a try!  Or the next best thing would be to buy from your local organic farmer 🙂

Here’s to living a healthy lifestyle!