By Estella Moore
As a garlic lover it is hard for me to resort to the ordinary garlic found in most grocery stores. Growing your own garlic is not only a surefire way to culinary delights throughout the year, but it is also a simple addition to your garden that is easy to plant, maintain and harvest.
There are two kinds of true garlic:
b softneck (Allium sativum var sativum),
b hardneck (Allium sativum var ophioscorodon).
Softneck garlic can be stored for up to a year or more and is more productive than hardneck. Recommended cultivars for Colorado include:
b Kettle River giant,
b Polish white.
Hardneck garlic does not have as long of a shelf life as softneck, but offers a wider range of flavors. Hardneck cultivars recommended for Colorado include:
b Chesnok red,
b German white,
b Polish hardneck.
A great place to source garlic that grows well in our environment is our local farmers markets.
Plant garlic four to six weeks before the ground freezes in well-drained amended soil.
b Break apart bulbs, using the largest cloves for planting.
b Plant cloves root end down, 2 inches deep and 4 to 6 inches apart in full sun.
b Add a deep layer of compost, leaf or straw mulch on top to maintain moisture and protect the soil during the winter.
In mid-summer, after removing the flower stalk, often called the scape (utilize its wonderful flavor), and once about one-half to two-thirds of the foliage has died back, it is ready to be harvested. Dig up the entire bulb, being careful to not damage it. Dry the bulbs in a dry, shady place with good air circulation for a few weeks. You can then clean the bulbs and trim the hardneck stems or braid the softneck stems. Remember to save some bulbs for next years planting.
Estella Moore became a Colorado Master Gardener in 2010. She lives in La Plata County.