This past weekend we had the perfect weather to plant garlic! First, Jason and Hannah popped the garlic. What is garlic popping? This refers to the process of splitting the heads of garlic into individual cloves. Each clove is the seed for a new head of garlic.
We are growing both hard and softneck varieties next year. What is the difference? The “neck” in the names refers to the stalk that grows from the center of the garlic bulb. Hardnecks have a central stalk that turns rigid at maturity. Softneck stalks have leaves that remain soft and flexible at maturity, rather than a central stalk. Softneck varieties can be stored longer and can be braided, while hardneck varieties are more suited to colder climates.
In the past we have only grown softneck varieties, but we wanted to try hardneck this year so we can harvest scapes. What are garlic scapes? Garlic scapes are the central green stalks that grow from the garlic bulb of hardneck varieties. They are long, curvy, and kind of look like a cross between chives and scallions. Garlic scapes often include a bulge on the end; that is actually a bud, and if the scape was left on the garlic, the bud would flower. Garlic scapes have a milder flavor than garlic and are like cross between garlic and chives. Their texture is similar to asparagus.
With the cloves separated and ready for planting, we spread compost over the garlic beds. Using the power harrow, Jason mixed the compost into the soil. Then we were ready to plant! Jason used our homemade dibbler to mark out the spacing and Hannah and I came in behind and placed a garlic clove into each hole. All that remains is to cover the beds with straw to protect them through the winter.