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Planting garlic

Fresh is best

I grow a little patch of garlic every year. It’s a really hardy plant and its flavor never disappoints me.

There are two types of garlic. The hardneck varieties, which I grow, are winter-hardy. Softneck varieties are what you find in the grocery store. They aren’t as winter-hardy, but tend to store better.

Becky Sideman is an extension sustainable horticulture specialist at the University of New Hampshire. She recommends buying garlic you intend to plant from a local grower or nursery. For one, you know it’s adapted to your area. And two, if it’s been grown for seed purposes, it’s more likely to be free of disease and insects.

I bought seed garlic the first year I planted it, and have been growing my own stock ever since.

"It’s important to select the biggest, healthiest garlic because your population can change a little bit over time," says Sideman. "I like to suggest that people, when they harvest and are preparing all their garlic, they save aside the very best ones for seed for the next year before they start eating any."

Garlic is a fairly heavy feeder, so do a soil test and add nutrients now if you need them, and then again in the spring.

Plant the cloves in late fall, at the same time as flower bulbs.

"Take the whole head of garlic and peel back the outer layers of skin and break apart those cloves, the individual cloves. And depending on variety, you might end up with four per-head, or you might end up with 10 or more per-head," says Sideman. "Plant those cloves distinctly, and each one of those cloves will develop into a full head."

Plant each clove about two-inches deep. Mulch the soil surface with straw if you live in northern areas of the country as insurance over the winter.

Learn more:

Grow your own garlic: Here are more garlic-growing tips from the experts at BHG.com.

Benefits of garlic: In addition to adding a wonderful flavor to recipes, garlic also has many health benefits.

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