posts tagged with 'garlic'

growing garlic

Since I want to be a garlic farmer when I grow up, the beginning of November is an exciting time for me. Back in the first week of the month I took some time a couple of days to put in this year's crop: about 90 cloves, of five different varieties. Lijah helped me with the planting and, knowing we were working on a culinary crop, insisted on having a taste. Really insisted: I put him off for as long as I could before finally giving in and letting him have a bite of an interior clove that was too small to plant. "It's yummy!" he told me hoarsely, then wiped his eyes vigorously with the backs of his hands for a bit.

me holding a just-pulled garlic bulb, in front of the row of the rest of the plants

beginning the 2016 harvest back in July

I like eating garlic, and the garlic we grow is delicious. Besides that, though, I also appreciate the simple multiplicative nature of the endeavor. You plant one clove in the fall and then in the summer you pull out a whole head, five or eight or twelve cloves. Then you break those up and plant them to get even more! I've never played Farmville or any of those farming simulator games, but I think the garlic planting business captures something of the same appeal. It's a little bit slower, I guess, but never mind—plenty other aspects of my life are rushing by too quick to manage.

I've also heard that garlic is the best crop small farmers can grow, on a dollar-per-square-foot basis. While I don't know if that's really the case—seems like heirloom tomatoes would be tough to top—it's certainly true that you'll pay a dollar a head at the farmers market for garlic that's much punier than what we grow here in our well-composted garden. I bought about $40 of seed garlic this year to broaden the diversity of our crop and we'll only harvest the $90 worth next summer; but we'll be able to eat or give away 70 of those heads and still have enough left to put in over 100 cloves next fall. Then 150 the year after... and 400 the year after that! Assuming we only keep back the 70 each year, that is. We may have to do better than that, or our whole yard will be garlic plants by fall 2022...