Growing Garlic

Patricia M. Arledge, Sharpe, Kenneth W.  |  11/16/2015 9:05:20 PM

News Article for November 9, 2015:

Garlic has long been a popular seasoning of southern cooks. It also has a long list of purported benefits such as warding off the common cold, acne and cancer plus repelling mosquitoes and evil spirits. Ancient Greeks used garlic to enhance strength and Hungarian jockeys would attach garlic to the bit of their racing horses so when another horse started to pass he would smell the garlic and pull back to avoid the smell.

If you want fresh garlic for your favorite dishes such as roast, chili, gravies and sauces then you will need to plant by the end of November. You can plant garlic from late September through November but you will also have to be patient. Garlic takes 210-230 days from planting until it is ready for harvest, which usually occurs in late April to May.

Since garlic can take up garden space for a long time you might want to plant a double drill row to conserve space. This will allow for 2 sets of plants on top of the same row spread apart evenly. You will find a lot of variation is seed size based on the variety. Plant cloves at a depth of 1 to 4 inches deep, or deep enough so rain does not wash the soil away which should be about twice the diameter of the clove. It will also be helpful to plant the base of the clove down so the garlic neck will grow straight. Spread seed out 4 to 6 inches within the row and 6 to 8 inches between the drills. It will require about 2-3 pounds of cloves to plant 100 feet of row per drill.

The three main types of garlic that we grow here are Elephant, Creole and Italian.

Elephant or Tahiti garlic is characterized by large dark cloves that are mild flavored and the plant will be large with light green leaves. Creole will produce medium sized white cloves and will have dark green foliage. Italian garlic will have the smallest cloves and plants. It produces pink cloves with strong flavor and small light green leaves.

One key to good garlic production is keeping the plant healthy with rapid growth. To accomplish this fertilize with 4 to 5 pounds of 13-13-13 fertilizer prior to planting. Come back and side dress with 2 pounds of calcium nitrate per 100 feet of row 30 days after planting then again in mid-February and once more in mid- March.

Garlic will be ready to harvest when the tops turn yellow. When you harvest the garlic you will notice there are buttons on the bottom of the clove which are called corms. If you plant the corms you will produce non-cloving bulb garlic which is perfectly good to use in cooking. If you were to then plant the garlic bulb you would produce garlic with cloves.

For more information on these or related topics contact Kenny at 225-686-3020 or visit our website at www.lsuagcenter.com/livingston.

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