Planting Garlic

fall planting gardening growing garlic planting garlic self sufficient Dec 10, 2023
Planting Garlic

Fall is the time for planting garlic on your homestead. Garlic bulbs take a long time to develop, so you won't be harvesting your crop until sometime in July or even August.

There are two main types of garlic, hardneck and softneck. The best type for you will depend on your hardiness zone. If you don't know your hardiness zone, you can look it up by entering your zip code here: the lower the number, the colder your area is in the winter. Homesteaders in zones 2-6 will have more success with hardneck garlic because it is more cold hardy. If you live in zones 7-9, softneck garlic will work best for you. There are many different cultivars within each type of garlic, and many people are loyal to their favorite. The best way to find the perfect ones for you is by trying them. One of my favorite hardneck cultivars is called Music, it has a pungent garlic flavor, much more flavorful than garlic available in grocery stores. Another favorite is Elephant Garlic, which isn't a true garlic, but a member of the leek family. The rich, nutty flavor of Elephant Garlic is my favorite for roasting and using in spreads.

Here in central Missouri, we're in zone 6 so I should be planting hardneck garlic, but unfortunately, it seems to be sold out everywhere I've tried to purchase it. I've had other people tell me the same thing, so it might be wise to purchase your garlic early and store it in a paper bag in your refrigerator's crisper drawer, that's what I'll be doing next year.

But, Country Tough Homesteaders don't give up easily, I'm planting softneck garlic, I'll just have to baby it a little as the weather gets colder. The most important thing is to keep the bulb from freezing; the green tops can take a freeze and come right back. Once the weather here is consistently below freezing, I'll mulch this bed thickly with pine shavings and if that isn't enough, I'll put a little greenhouse-style top on the bed to nurse it through the coldest weeks.

If you have the reverse situation, you live in a warm zone, but you want to plant hardneck garlic, you can try modifying your conditions by using shade cloth or planting it in a shady area to keep it cooler. I have heard some southern homesteaders have had luck with growing hardneck garlic by leaving it in the refrigerator for a few weeks to give it the chill hours it needs. It's worth a try.

Besides adding a ton of flavor to our favorite foods, garlic brings a lot to the table in the way of nutrition and health benefits. It's a great source of: manganese, vitamin B6, vitamin C, selenium, and fiber

Research has found that garlic has compounds with antiviral properties which can help prevent viruses from entering your cells and replicating. These compounds also help reduce blood pressure and cholesterol. Garlic is also full of antioxidants which may help prevent Alzheimer's disease and dementia. The sulfur compounds in garlic were shown in a 2012 study to be very effective in reducing heavy metal damage in the body. In the study, employees of a battery manufacturing plant who were suffering from excessive lead exposure were treated with garlic and saw a significant improvement in their symptoms.

With so many health benefits in such a delicious little package, garlic will always have a place on my Country Tough Homestead!

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