Garlic (Allium sativum) is a hardy, perennial member of the
onion family. Probably native to Central Asia, garlic has long been
naturalized in Southern Europe. Unlike the onion, garlic plants
produce a number of small bulbs called cloves rather than one large
bulb. Each bulb contains a dozen or more cloves, and is covered
with a thin white skin. The larger outer cloves produce the best
garlic. Garlic has flat leaves rather than the round, hollow leaves
of the onion. Garlic is used largely as a condiment and as flavoring
in gravies, tomato sauces, soups, stews, pickles, salads, salad
dressing and breads. Many cooks find it indispensable in the kitchen.
powder is made from ground dehydrated cloves and is used widely
as a substitute for fresh garlic. Garlic powder is also used by
the meat packing industry in prepared meats.
Garlic grows best on friable (crumbly) loamy soils that are fertile
and high in organic matter. Garlic does well with high amounts of
fertilizer. As a general recommendation, apply three pounds of 10-10-10
fertilizer per 100 square feet. Follow soil test recommendations
for your particular garden soil. The soil must be kept evenly moist,
as dry soil will cause irregularly shaped bulbs. Heavy clay soils
will also create misshapen bulbs and make harvesting difficult.
Add organic matter--well-rotted manure or compost--to the soil on
a yearly basis to keep it friable.
Garlic must be planted very early in the Northeast (March or April)
to permit full leaf development. Later spring planting is not successful.
Long days and warm temperatures favor bulb development in the garlic
plant. As soon as bulbing starts, leaf initiation ceases. For highest
yields, therefore, the cloves must be planted early enough to permit
the development of large vegetative plants during the short cool
days of March and April. The yield potential of the plants depends
on the amount of vegetative growth produced before bulbing commences.
Select only larger outer cloves for the best garlic. Garlic seed
is not available and is rarely produced by plants. Be sure that
the cloves are free of disease and are smooth and fresh.
Plant garlic cloves three to five inches apart in an upright position
in the row and set them at a depth of one-half to one inch deep.
Setting the bulbs in an upright position ensures a straight neck.
Be sure to allow 18 to 30 inches between the rows. Do not divide
the bulbs into cloves until you are ready to plant--early separation
results in decreased yields.
bulbs may be harvested when the tops start to dry, usually in August.
Bulbs should be dug up rather than pulled to avoid stem injury.
Allow the tops to dry. After the bulbs have dried, the tops and
roots can be removed with shears to within an inch of the bulbs.
It is essential that the garlic be well cured before being stored.
The mature bulbs are best stored at 32 degrees F. Garlic stores
well under a wide range of temperatures, but sprouts will develop
quickly at temperatures at or above 40 degrees F. The humidity in
storage should be near 65 to 70 percent at all times to discourage
mold development and root formation. Cloves should keep for six
to seven months.
The onion maggot larva is occasionally found in garlic cloves when
harvested. An earlier symptom of onion maggot presence is the premature
death of leaf tips. Sanitation is crucial to control; sprays are
from Charles T. Behnke, Ohio State University Extension, 2000