Fall gardening usually evokes images of greens, cabbage, broccoli and the like.
While we don’t normally think of garlic as a fall crop because it is harvested in May, it is actually a fall plant because it is planted in October and November.
Garlic is a flavor component of many of the delicacies that we enjoy. It is especially good in pork, gravies, sauces, etouffee and many of the holiday treats we will consume over the upcoming weeks. In addition, garlic is reported to have numerous benefits such as helping with the common cold and curing acne. It can also keep ghosts, goblins and even your friends away if you use too much.
When planting garlic, remember that is takes 210-230 days from planting to harvest, so get ready for the long haul. Make sure you rows are up good and high to keep winter and spring rains from flooding your garlic. In order to make good use of limited garden space, it would be a good idea to put in a double drilled row for garlic.
Fertilize the garden prior to planting with 4-5 pounds of 8-8-8 fertilizer or the equivalent per 100 feet of row. Sidedress about 30 days after planting with 1½ pounds of calcium nitrate per 100 feet of row and then again in another 6 weeks.
Plant cloves 2-4 inches deep and make sure the cloves are planted vertically so the garlic necks will be straight. Space the cloves out every 4-6 inches within the row. At this spacing, you will need 2-3 pounds of seed to plant a single row or double that amount if you are using a double drill. Recommended garlic varieties for Louisiana include Italian, Creole and Elephant.
Italian is the smallest of the garlic varieties, but it has the boldest flavor. The cloves are small and pink. The plants have narrow leaves that are light green in color. Italian garlic has good storage ability.
Creole garlic produces medium sized white cloves. Their plants have broad leaves that are dark green in color.
As you might guess, Elephant garlic, also known as the Tahiti garlic, has the largest cloves. The plants are large with light green leaves. The cloves are dark in color but have a mild flavor.
We plant garlic in the fall to fulfill its chilling requirement of two months of temperatures between 32-50 degrees Fahrenheit. Bulb development can then occur with the increased sunlight in spring.
When the tops start to turn yellow in mid-April to May, garlic will be ready for harvest. Bulbs can be hand pulled and left to dry for several days. Place the tops over the bulbs to prevent sun burning.
After drying, the outer loose parts of the sheath should be removed and roots trimmed to within ½ inch of the bulb. Bulbs of similar sizes with stems can be plaited or braided into strings with 20-25 bulbs per string.
Garlic should be stored between 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit and less than 60 percent relative humidity for best results. Cloves will sprout quickly at temperatures around 40 degrees.
For more information on these or related topics contact Kenny at 225-686-3020 or visit our website at www.lsuagcenter.com/livingston.