Garlic: Plant in Cold Weather - Harvest in Hot

I was getting worried that I had waited too long to find organic garden bulbs, but did a simple search on Amazon and low and behold...there was organic garlic.  Wowzer! That's a great garden tip on how to have organic garden material show up at your door!  Quick! Hit the buy button! Now to see if they actually arrive before Santa Clause is the true test, right? So up from my desk, and on to other task with hopes of garlic reaching my door soon. Luckily, the Red Artichoke Inchelium bulbs came in about a week and to my surprise were beautiful healthy bulbs, and still in mint condition after shipping. 
There are many varieties of garlic. This happens to be Red Artichoke Inchelium variety.  A soft neck, mild garlic, with a hint of bite to it. Should be great for my stir fry, pasta dishes, and sauces. And the soft neck garlic can be braided, which makes it prettier to keep, which makes it perfect for my kitchen. 
Amazon is pretty darn good at standing behind the product they sell.  If you are not happy with your purchase you can easily return the item for a credit or swap, but with my garlic purchase I did not have time for it to be an unworthy order. I was already behind the eight ball on planting time so I used a good rule of thumb of organic gardening and verified.  If a farm is "certified organic", and have sells of more than $5,000.00 per year, they have been thru the rigorous test of the USDA organics certification program and will have the stamp of approval.   We all know not all online companies are what they claim, so it is smart to verify that your online purchase of organics is truly organic.  In this case it came by way of old fashion telephony! The kind gentleman on the other end did in fact verify they are a legit organic farm and assured me my invoice will reflect the certification number.  
Now, let's get this herbal gold in the ground! It's actually very easy to plant!
Garlic is usually planted from late September to early November but in the deep south can sometimes grow when planted as late as January.  It does not have to have a lot of room in your garden, does not require extremely fertile soil, or a lot of fuss over the winter months.  
Break apart the bulbs:
Carefully seperate each clove from the bulb. Cause the least amount of damage to the bottom part of the bulb as possible. This is where the roots will form once planted.  If the peel cracks or becomes damaged, it's okay, it will still grow, but try to keep the bulb as much intact as you can. 
Planting the bulbs:
In your garden area, toil back the soil about 2 or 3 inches. No need to plant any deeper than 3 inches.  Most folks plant seed in straight convential rows.  Well...I guess I'm not most folks and I'm am definitely not conventional, so let's go with an arc shaped planting style in the corner of my herb bed.  The main reason I planting in the corner is so when spring is here and it's time to plant other things, I can without disturbing my garlic bulbs. 
Spacing:
Space cloves about 4-5" apart with about 8" or so between the rows.  I use a measure tape but there's no real precision, It's mainly to keep the minimum between them. Once placed in the soil with the root base down and the tip toward the sky, cover with 2-3" soil.  
I tossed a bit of bunny poo on top of my soil covering. Although since rabbit manure is a cold manure it most likely would not hurt the garlic to be touching, but I'm going to play it safe. 
Top it off:
 
Mulch over your newly planted bulbs about 4" deep. This is important as your bulbs need a warm blankie at night during the winter, just like you do! 
Forget it for the winter:
Depending on the climate where you live you may or may not see growth before winter, so go away and forget about your garlic until the spring!
 
Check garlic growth in early spring:
If the following spring is cool and wet you should rake the excess mulch off so the garlic doesn't rot. In the spring water 1-2" per week, like any other green plant. If not already, the garlic will peek through the soil and begin to rise to the sky!  Garlic is a beautiful plant and will be a visual asset to your garden as much as in your kitchen! As the season progresses the lower leaves will begin to brown.  Reduce the water at this point to prevent mold on the bulbs. 
Harvest in summer: 
When the top 4 leaves are 50% brown and starting to fall over it is time to carefully dig up the bulbs.  I plan to post a picture [here] of my mature garlic plants growing in my garden next spring. Yay!
  
Storing:
Ideal storage temperatures are 36-55 degrees and low humidity. Since it can be quite humid here in Middle Tennessee I will either bring my braided garlic inside to cure or as recommended by the seller, I may possibly run a fan in my shed where I typically dry herbs and leave my braids there. 
If you have not ordered your garlic yet, maybe The Engells still have some on hand to ship thru Amazon. You can visit their website here.  I recommend! 
Have fun flipping dirt Ya'll!, 
~Pj
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