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Growing Garlic in NJ

with Guest Blogger, Laura Knott

Laura Knott is a dear friend of our family who, in my estimation, wins the award for Most Impressive Organic Garden in the northwestern part of NJ. For many years now, I have been the delighted recipient of delicious, home cooked creations borne of her backyard bounty.

Laura and her husband Tom impress me especially with their home-grown garlic. We are garlic people all the way. I once attended a garlic festival in the Poconos with Laura. While there, we took heady sniffs from an assortment of garlic varieties. We also partook of atypical fare such as garlic bisque ice cream. And we purchased garlic and spicy-pepper infused oils to add to our culinary collections.

It's September as I write this, and the time to plant garlic is nigh. If executed correctly, your garlic plants will burst forth from the ground sometime next spring.

I thought I'd consult with Laura, whom I consider a garlic-growing expert, for the proper protocol on the topic of garlic growing in NJ. Below, a series of questions that she has so kindly provided answers for.

Where to get the best cultivars of garlic plants here in NJ Zone 6? Do you have any favorites?

Laura: Hit up your local fall garlic festival or farmer's market to get fresh organic stuff to plant, as well as to find out what varieties grow best in your area. In my neck of the northwest NJ woods, hardneck varieties prevail. I usually get a mix of varieties, for fun.

Start looking now at plant catalogs to order yours in time for planting. It's possible to plant grocery store garlic, although they are often chemically treated to retard sprouting – not an ideal trait in something you are trying to grow.

 

What is the correct time of year to plant garlic in NJ zone 6?

Laura: Plant your garlic any time before the ground freezes, but later is better. Unseasonably warm temps can cause garlic to grow above ground before next year. This drains the energy and health of the plant when the hard freeze comes.

I plant in November in the loose rich soil of my raised beds, and add compost for these heavy feeders. Mulch with shredded leaves after the ground freezes.

 

Can you give planting depth, spacing, and all those necessary details?

Laura: Split the individual cloves from the garlic head and plant each one 4 inches deep and 6 inches apart with the pointy end up.

Garlic will sprout in the spring along with your other bulbs and be ready to harvest in early summer. Keep weeded, watered, and add more compost for kicks.

How long does it take before the garlic is ready to harvest? Can we eat it right away? What's the proper method for storage?

Laura: To harvest garlic, gently pull plants after the first few bottom leaves turn brown. Allow to cure for a few days in a covered area with good airflow. Then braid or hang by the stalk for the duration. Our 4x12 bed yields enough for almost a whole year.

What about garlic scapes... they're a delicacy. Do you utilize them in your cooking? How so?

Laura: Prior to harvest, hardneck garlic will produce a bonus crop. In May, garlic sends up a hard shoot which, if left untended, will produce a flower and then bulbils (seeds, basically). This stalk is known as the scape. Until a few years ago, its only job was to get chopped off to prevent the growing clove from wasting its energy on flower production. Now, it's an expensive gourmet treat.

The mild tasting, soft part of the scape works well in egg and meat dishes, soup, pesto, and really any other place you personally welcome garlic. We keep it in the fridge and add during cooking, or puree it with olive oil and freeze it in ice cube trays for easy portioning.

My husband Tom concocted a recipe: Garlic Scape Pesto and Hummus Dip. It might not be useful now, but it just might convince you to do some shopping at Easton PA's garlic fest on October 1st and 2nd. Enjoy!

About the Contributor

NJ Garden blogger Laura Knott considers dirt her vehicle for both triumph and disaster. She chronicles her gardening misadventures while offering helpful how-tos and tasty recipes. Read, laugh, learn, and shop for natural products that Laura creates using her own, homegrown ingredients, at www.laurashomegrown.net.


GardenBedsNJ.com is owned by Mike Hyde and 4 Seasons Lawn Care. We build, deliver and install raised garden beds to Hunterdon and Warren Counties in NJ and Northampton County, PA.

Contact us for more information: 908 783 5733 or email mikehyde@4seasonslawns.com today!

 

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