Growing Garlic

First Garlic Emerging in Spring April 15, 2015 12:36

 

As with every year, spring finally comes and most of us on the Canadian prairies can't believe we survived another winter. Once our bodies thaw out from the freeze, we start thinking about more exciting things like our gardens, the farmers market and warm summer days to come.

One of my favourite things to do in spring is to dig up a few garlic cloves to make sure that they survived the winter and check on root growth. It's always a relief to find cloves that are firm and white with nice thick roots. In exposed areas that don't have enough snow cover, our garlic sometimes has winter kill. The roots are usually shriveled up and the cloves have turned a yellow/orange translucent colour. If you see this, it basically means that your garlic froze to death.

Although it's nice to know that the garlic survived the winter, the most exciting time is when the soil has warmed up enough for the first garlic plants to start popping out of the ground. On our farm, that can be anytime from mid-April to early-May depending on the year.

 

This year, the weather warmed up in spring and like clockwork, the garlic plants all started to emerge on schedule. 

The first variety out of the ground on our farm is usually a softneck called Inchelium Red. It's from British Columbia, so we weren't sure how well it would perform here on the prairies. It has consistently survived our brutal winters, has great root growth and has become one of our favourite softnecks. As for hardnecks, our selection of Spanish Roja tends to be the first to emerge in spring and blasts out of the ground at full speed.  

As for our other varieties, many had very good root growth coming out of winter but were a little late to send up the first leaf and become fully emerged. Many of our Porcelain seedlings tend to take their time at the beginning of the season, however, they are vigorous growers and always make up for it once warmer weather comes.