AO Gardener Series: The Big (Garlic) Reveal

The team here at AO is excited to share that we’ll be featuring some new contributors here on the GROW blog, all geared to get you inspired to grow. With the season right around the corner, we wanted to offer a resource for anyone out there who wants to go green, whether you’ve never handled a spade to being a well-versed professional, we want to share the experiences of voices from all levels of green-thumbery!

Okay…so I did pull back some straw to take a peek a couple of weeks ago, but just as the saying goes “curiousity killed the cat” (sorry cat people) as I had to know how things were growing under there. 

And while there is much to do in the garden in early spring, garlic growers know that you can’t blame it on the garlic if you planted last fall.  Between planting and the day you harvest, garlic is a very easy, rewarding and stunningly beautiful crop.  

In the two weeks since I snuck a peek, the green tips of our ophio garlic shoots (aka ‘hardneck’ versus the ‘softneck’ garlic that you can braid) have been poking out of the thick straw mulch.  Garlic is cold hardy and can handle a few late frosts, so with little risk, off goes the mulch (!) and garlic plants all 3-5” were revealed!  Instantly this bed becomes the highlight an early garden!


What I found was much like every other year - of 200+ plants, about 5 looked very yellow with floppy leaves. As severely yellowed leaves could indicate a mold disease – I yanked them out and chucked them in the forest!  When this crippling yellowing occurs it could also just mean the cloves were damaged or weak – either way it’s best to be ruthless and get rid of them.  If the leaves are only slightly yellow on the tips though, this is common and sometimes a day or two of good air circulation can do the trick to darken them up.  If that doesn’t work the yellow tips could indicate a soil imbalance of nutrients.

As an early spring feed is in order anyway (yellow tips or not), greening-up your garlic shouldn’t take extra effort.  If you have composted manure or kitchen waste than side dressing will work wonders and slowly release nutrients as it degrades and gets rained in.  Otherwise applying a fish / kelp fertilizer every couple of weeks just until the curly scapes form is another good plan.  Garlic is very efficient in using nutrients so there is no need to be heavy handed.  

And lastly, watering.  Here too garlic is really simple and drip, sprinkler or hand watering will do.  Like any other green leafy plant, garlic needs ample moisture – always moist and never dry.  We grow hardneck garlic at Sunday Farm which will top the plants with curling scapes come summer (see photo below from 2013).  Once this happens, watering is soon discontinued and a natural in-ground curing of the bulbs begins for the last 2-3 weeks.  As a big fan of cutting scapes for pesto, I’ll be sure to pick up where I leave off here come summer, but for now enjoy the simplicity and dramatic growth ahead.  



OH HI!  I’M SONJA – AN OVER THE MOON INFATUATED FOOD GROWER IN BEAUTIFUL SQUAMISH BC WHICH LIES IN THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST. I LOVE TO GET DIRTY OUTSIDE WITH FUNKY TUNES AND JUST FALL INTO THE MOVING MEDITATION / AMAZING WORKOUT - ALSO KNOWN AS VEGETABLE GARDENING.

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