This past week we harvested the garlic at the farm. It is nice when the sandy soil is moist because it makes for an easy harvest. It took 2 of us the better part of 4 hours to harvest it all. Harvest included digging them up and cutting the scapes with bulbils off of them. We placed the bulbils in containers with buckets. The plan is to plant the bulbils and grow them out over the next couple of years. Many people cut the scapes early to help the bulbs grow larger. I hope that actually works that way since these bulbs all look small. Scapes can be sold when they are cut early and sold late with bulbils for people who want to plant. Last fall we could not find any bulbils for sale when we purchased the garlic. Since we have about 1800 scapes maybe we will sell some this year. Each scape has 20 or more bulbils which in a few years will be larger garlic bulbs. That equates to 36,000 bulbs – ahhhh.
50 pounds of garlic is more than I realized! One half bushel bag of garlic bulbs contained about 575 cloves. Different types of garlic will have a different number of cloves per pound.
If the cloves are spaced at 6 inches you get an average of 6 per square foot. The 575 cloves needs about 100 square feet to plant. I’ve ended up planting three areas with garlic even though I thought I had tilled enough space originally for all the garlic. And there is still more garlic to plant. If garlic is one of the top ten speciality crops it may also be one of the most labor intensive.
Below is an area in the 2013 food forest that has been tilled and planted with garlic. Planting into soil that has been prairie is much harder than into existing garden areas with softer soil. Leaves was added for mulch. I’m considering placing a border around the area that goes into the soil to keep the grass from growing in.