Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Grow, Eat, Enjoy - Garlic

Last week I harvested garlic. I don't know many people who grow garlic, but it is one of my favorite things to grow. It is so easy to grow and store.

And garlic just tastes good!


Garlic is grown from garlic bulbs. The bulbs are separated into individual cloves and planted in September or October in my climate. This gives the garlic a few weeks to root before cold weather hits. Usually they sprout a couple inches. Garlic can be planted in the spring but the bulbs will be smaller.

I bought my first garlic online. I chose a variety that would grow well in my region. After my initial investment (quite minimal) I have not had to purchase any more garlic. Every year I save a few bulbs from my harvest to plant for next year's crop.


In my area, garlic is normally harvested around July 4th. You can dig some earlier and use like an onion. It will taste like mild garlic. But it won't be separated into individual cloves until July. If you wait too long, the cloves will split the bulb. Varieties vary so check yours every week.When you cut open the bulb and can see individual cloves, it is ready to pick.

I thought my garlic wasn't ready this year on the 4th and waited another week. But when I pulled it, I found some of the garlic had started to get a little soft and was infected with onion maggots. Yuck.

The firm heads I dried and hung in our woodshed. But the soft heads I cleaned, threw out the bad cloves, and minced the good. I had a small bucket full of garlic and the job took me all afternoon. I ended up with three pints of minced garlic. If you've never done that much garlic, you will have no idea how much garlic one pint can hold. That is a LOT of garlic. While garlic doesn't burn your eyes like onions, I discovered that with long exposure to garlic, my hands became irritated. They smelled like garlic for an entire week!

The good part is, I should have enough minced garlic for using in spaghetti sauce and other meals for the rest of the winter. All my work was done in one afternoon!

I used an oil preserving method that pours in some vinegar to add acidity and then covered with olive oil. The garlic I preserved that way last year stayed fresh tasting in the fridge all winter. Just adding a spoon full to a pot of soup flavored the whole pot. Wonderful!


I find that though I have only a few recipes that call for garlic. But nearly any recipe that calls for an onion will be enhanced with garlic too. I'm in the habit of adding a little garlic anytime I use onion. We love it! Someday, if I really have a lot of garlic, I'd like to try drying and blending it to make my own garlic powder. There is sometimes when I prefer garlic powder, such as dusting a homemade cracker.

Links to other places I've talked about garlic

Planting garlic and where to buy garlic for planting

Garlic scapes
Preserving Garlic in Oil

Do you grow garlic? How do you use it?


  1. We had one of our favorite garlic recipes last night. It's a skillet full of green beans, sauteed in a bit of olive oil for a few minutes, then covered with a lid and steamed with a couple of tablespoons of water until just crisp-tender. Then I take off the lid, add four crushed cloves of garlic, and about 1/4-1/2 t. salt, 1 T butter, then toss and let the water cook out. It is always soooo good- salty and buttery and garlicky. All the kids forewent spaghetti and meatballs to request more beans.

  2. I have been growing garlic for a couple of years now. My neighbor gave me my start. The garlic she gave me gets little bulbs on top that split open in the fall and drop to the ground and reseed or you can pick then and replant. She always pulls the garlic in the fall. So that is how I have been harvesting mine. This year I did take off some of the seed tops was told the bulbs would get bigger. Not sure what type of garlic I have. We do enjoy having our own.

  3. How do you get your garlic to hold over through the winter. Everytime my garlic turns to yuck.

  4. I love garlic, but I always forget to plant it on time! I tried growing it in a pot without any success. Try, try again, I say, so maybe it will work this year.
    I know of a nice garlic dish, but I don't have measurements to give you. You put a head of garlic in each cup of a muffin pan, the add chicken broth almost to the top in each. Bake it at about 325 until it is highly fragrant and soft. The garlic become so soft that you can squeeze it onto toasty bread or other food. The cooking causes it to become mellow and smooth. This is a nice side dish for a holiday meal (if you have a garlic-loving family).

  5. Do you think this is something I would be able to grow in containers???

  6. Oh, I make the same green bean dish as April- I call it "Garlic Green Beans" on my blog, but I add some crushed red pepper for a bit of spice. It's SUPER yummy, especially grilled in a grilling wok.

    I wanted to ask about the oil preserving- I read the link- do you keep it in the fridge after it's time at room temp? And you really think it's safe? I've read so much about not putting fresh garlic in olive oil. I do higher acid tomatoes, but never but garlic in. Your experience was good?

  7. very good post!!! i preserve mine the same way! except i use the old food processor to chop it all up


  8. April -
    Your recipe looks so yummy!

    Cheryl - What interesting garlic!

    Mary - I dry mine well and hang it in an airy place in the woodshed until it is cold, then bring it to the garage so it doesn't freeze. Another reader suggested putting garlic in the freezer if you have trouble storing.

    Dana -I never tried growing in containers. Have any of you other readers?

    Jami -Jami -
    I did keep it in the fridge after room temperature. From what I could read, you MUST add vinegar. It kept for months for me. But I hesitate to tell you to try it if you are not comfortable with it.


  9. Yes, I grow garlic, and have taken to adding it to many dishes- more than the recipe calls for, too. What yummy Caesar salad dressing fresh garlic makes. Mine lasts more than a year in our cool basement.-Wendy

  10. I know that you plant your garlic 6 inches deep. How deep is it when you pull it up? I planted it for the first time in the fall and tried to pull one the other day. It somehow had worked itself almost a foot into the soil! Is that normal? I can't figure out how that can happen, but I also know there is no way I planted it that deep originally.

    Anyway, it wasn't done yet and I got no scapes off of it, which disappointed me. Don't the hard neck garlics produce scapes?

  11. timely post, Gina! I was just talking to my husband yesterday about growing our own garlic. For whatever reason, I can't really find it locally here. Don't know why the farmers down't grow it for sale.

    I love garlic more than onions. Love how you preserved the minced garlic - I'll keep that in mind.

  12. That is lovely garlic!! I haven't grown it in years but plan on planting some this Fall.

  13. I like growing is easy and so desired. It makes so many dishes taste and smell delicious! Your post was great!

  14. I just got my garlic planted 2 weekends ago. It's my first time of growing it. I so hope it turns out.


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