Friday, October 19, 2012

how to start a garlic farm

Grab a bulb from the box and loosen the outer skins with your thumbs.  Or roll the bulb between your palms as you would to make a snowball.  When the outer skins are off, hold the bulb in both hands and twist. This action should break the root mass at the bottom of the bulb.  Your bulb should be in half now.  Go in with your thumbs and separate the cloves.  Throw healthy cloves into a basket.  Discard hollow and rotten cloves.  Repeat these actions all week.  You are now ready to plant your garlic farm.

The successful garlic farmer should remember one thing: Do not sell all of your garlic.  Hold back some of the best bulbs.  Hold back bulbs with very big cloves.  You will plant the cloves.  Each clove becomes an entire bulb.  Big cloves become big bulbs.  This is why it is important to hold back a lot of nice bulbs.  You wouldn't want a shabby crop the next year, would you?  No, you would be out of business. 

If you are clever with math, especially multiplication, you are probably starting to understand how a garlic farm works.  Say the average bulb of Red Russian garlic has 6 big cloves.  If you have 1000 bulbs of Red Russian garlic, and if you plant all of those cloves, the next year you will have 6000 bulbs.  If you were to continue along these lines and not eat or sell a single bulb of garlic, you could have 36,000 bulbs the following year.  If you follow this procedure for yet another year, you could have 216,000 bulbs.  That's a lot of garlic. You should probably sell some garlic each year.  Otherwise, you will soon run out of space for all the garlic.

When you harvest your garlic in the summer, in June and July, depending on the variety, you will have a choice to make.  Should you leave the field fallow?  Should you plant a cover crop?  Or should you plant a fall crop such as winter squash?  If you want to earn more money, you should plant a fall crop.  Your fall crop will have plenty of time to grow and mature before winter hits.  

But perhaps you do not want to be a garlic farmer.  Perhaps you only want to grow some garlic in your garden.  Well, you're in luck.  Growing garlic in the garden is exactly the same as farming garlic.  Only the scale is different.  If you want to grow garlic, choose one or two very nice bulbs at the farmers market.  Look for bulbs with big cloves.  Take those bulbs home and do not eat them.  Store them.  When October comes around, break the bulbs into cloves and plant the individual cloves.  Plant them about an inch or two deep.  Plant them 8 inches apart.  Add some compost to the soil when you are planting.  You do not need to water.  Just wait until spring.  

Your garlic will come up in the spring.  Feed it a couple times between March and June.  If you want to check on the bulbs underneath the soil, gently dig around one of the plants.  Otherwise, leave them alone.  Be sure to water them.  Garlic gets thirsty.  Shortly before the bulb is ready, the garlic will send up a long, spiraling top, which is the flower stalk or "scape."  Cut that scape off and eat it, or leave it on the plant.  It's up to you.  A couple weeks later your garlic should be ready.  Pull it up; brush or hose the dirt off; eat some.  If you want more garlic next year, hold a couple bulbs back.  It is not necessary to hold back hundreds of pounds as the garlic farmer does.




1 comment:

Arun said...

Does this method works on any kind of soil or this has to done in a particular type of soil ?