The Garlic Ritual

An email from a friend in Grand Forks yesterday asking about the garlic planting ritual started me thinking about the great garlic crops we've had through the decades. Garlic is fairly easy grow.

The 1st step is to figure which kind does best in your area. We grew a stiff necked variety of garlic brought to BC by the Dukabors named Homesteader. It has huge oily cloves that almost skin themselves. Each year we re-plant about 120-150 cloves out in a new a newly prepared bed that’s loaded with aged llama manure, compost and sweat. They end up a couple inches deep to the top of the cove, exactly the depth the hole my finger makes in the bed. Garlic is always planted root side down.

It’s a yearly ritual, it’s the first thing planted for the next year's harvest making it a re-affirmation that you're going be there 'til next July for the harvest. The full moon in September is the perfect time to plant garlic in the northern hemisphere. An old world pagan gardening practice is to plant things whose mainly edible parts are below the ground like garlic, potatoes, onions, radishes, etc. at the full moon and to plant above ground crops like corn, beans, peppers, tomatoes, etc. at the new moon. Be sure to rotate each of your garden's crops each year, including the garlic.

Garlic is one of the easiest things for a gardener to become self-sufficient in. You plant it in the fall, you weed it once in late May, you break off the flower heads in June, harvest it mid-late July. The whole 130 bulbs planted in a grid 4-6 inches apart takes up about 50 sq. ft. and probably about 3 hours total per year. We end up with 50-60lbs generally, it keeps all year round in a jute mesh bag outta direct sunlight and at cool-ish room temperature.

Looking for miracles, try the endless bounty of the yearly garlic ritual. The alchemy of manure, sunlight, rain, and open pollinated seed produces one of the most healthy of all foods, garlic.