Karen Cambre, Sharpe, Kenneth W.
News article for November 13, 2017
Fall gardening usually evokes images of greens, cabbage, broccoli and the like. We do not normally think of garlic as a fall crop because it is harvested in May, but it is planted in October and November.
Garlic is a flavor component of many of the delicacies that we enjoy. Garlic is especially good in pork, gravies, sauces, etouffee and many of the holiday treats we will consume over the upcoming weeks. In addition garlic is reported to have numerous benefits such as helping with the common cold, curing acne and can keep ghosts, goblins and even your friends away if you use too much.
When planting garlic remember that is takes 210 to 230 days from planting to harvest so you are in for a long haul. Make sure you rows are up good and high to keep winter and spring rains from flooding your garlic. In order to make good use of limited garden space, it would be a good idea to put in a double drilled row for garlic.
Fertilize the garden prior to planting with 4-5 pounds of 8-8-8 fertilizer or the equivalent per 100 feet of row. Sidedress about 30 days after planting with 1½ pounds of calcium nitrate per 100 feet of row and then again in another 6 weeks.
Plant cloves 2 to 4 inches deep and make sure the cloves are planted vertically so the garlic necks will be straight. Space the cloves out every 4 to 6 inches within the row. At this spacing you will need 2-3 pounds of seed to plant a single row or double that amount if you are using a double drill.
Recommended garlic varieties for Louisiana include Italian, Creole and Elephant.
Italian is the smallest of the garlic varieties but it has the boldest flavor. The cloves are small and pink. The plants have narrow leaves that are light green in color. Italian garlic has good storage ability.
Creole garlic produces medium sized white cloves. Their plants have broad leaves that are dark green in color.
As you might guess, Elephant garlic has the largest cloves. It is also known as Tahiti garlic. The cloves are dark in color but have a mild flavor. The plants are large with light green leaves.
We plant garlic in the fall to fulfill its chilling requirement of 2 months of temperatures between 32 and 50 degrees F. Bulb development can then occur with the increased sunlight in spring.
In mid-April to May when the tops start to turn yellow, garlic will be ready for harvest. Bulbs can be hand pulled and left to dry for several days. Place the tops over the bulbs to prevent sun burning.
After drying the outer loose parts of the sheath are removed and roots are trimmed to within ½ inch of the bulb. Bulbs of similar sizes with stems can be plaited or braided into strings with 20 to 25 bulbs per string.
Garlic should be stored at 60 to70˚ F and less than 60% relative humidity for best results. Cloves will sprout quickly at temperatures around 40˚F.