When I got home from work yesterday, I smelled garlic. Rich in sulphur, garlic gives off a pungent smell right about this time of year as it starts to rot. I looked in my garlic basket, squeezed the disintegrating cloves, and wept. It was time to say good-bye to the few remaining cloves of garlic I had grown last summer.
This will be my third year of growing the fragrant bulb, although I have been concerned about the source of my garlic for much longer than that. Ten years ago, I saw a teeny tiny sign hanging over some garlic, sourcing it from China. I scratched my head and said to myself “you mean we can’t even grow garlic here anymore?” It seemed absurd and impractical that garlic should have to travel 7,500 miles to please my taste buds. Is a passport required?
The good news is that garlic is pretty easy to grow. Break up a bulb, plant the cloves in the fall, heavily mulch the spot with hay or sea weed, and you’ll be greeted by green garlic sprouts in the spring. Remember it is a bulb and it likes to sit in the ground over winter to produce a fat crop. Some people plant their garlic in the early spring with some success, but I haven’t tried it. Don’t worry if you didn’t plant any garlic last fall, though; it’s a popular crop among local farmers and you can still find some good, local garlic at the farmer’s market.
I’m a purist, so when I can’t find any local organic garlic, I wait until mid-July to harvest the garlic I planted the previous fall. But I’m also impatient, too, so garlic is teaching me a good lesson in learning to wait. The old saw about “good things coming to those who wait” may not be true about everything, but fresh garlic in late summer is grrr…great.
Are you growing any garlic this year?