PROTECT YOURSELF FROM THE UNDEAD (Or, Just Enjoy Some Fresh Garlic)
Does garlic protect you from the undead?
I don’t think it has any effect on werewolves and I’m no Zombie expert, but I don’t think those raw brain-eating lethargic types care much about cooking.
Vampires, on the other hand, loathe garlic. This is not why I grow garlic every year but it does provide one less worry in life; I don’t worry about vampires. The potency of my garlic is truly outstanding; we often half what most recipes call for knowing the garlic I grow is no ordinary, store-bought variety. This, coupled with the fact that I plant it by the dozen, helps me maintain a strong and impenetrable garlic barrier.
Excuse me for veering off topic a bit there… I am a co-author of a sci-fi series after all, and sometimes it’s impossible to resist injecting some imaginative elements into the mundane. (I know there is a reason vampires abhor garlic, but you can find that out for yourself by watching old movies or perhaps by checking Wikipedia!)
This blog is about growing your own garlic. I’m not trying to put the garlic industry out of business, but I haven’t bought garlic in 15 years, as I grow enough to last all year round.
If you like to cook and you use garlic in your recipes, growing your own garlic may be an option for you. It is one of the easiest crops I’ve ever cultivated, so it’s perfect for beginners. I grow about 100 to 120 bulbs each year, and I don’t wear garlic necklaces, but I could if needed to!
Test Out Your Green Thumb
Garlic is planted in late October or early November (while you can still work the soil), and it should be planted in dirt mounds about six inches high. Plant the cloves in long rows - if not in single file, two at most side by side (to save garden space and for ease of weeding). Keep that in mind when you make your dirt mound, and adjust the width as necessary. They need to be planted six inches apart in any direction (even if you are planting them side by side in a row), and about two inches deep from the top of the clove. Make sure to plant the cloves pointy side up, and fat side down.
Each bulb of garlic has about six cloves, and each planted clove grows a full bulb of garlic. You need to break apart the bulbs by hand, and keep as much of the paper on the clove as possible for planting.
Garlic is one of the first emerging plants that you will see in the springtime. If it gets dry as the season goes on, you can’t water them too much.
In May or early June you will see a tubular stem coming out of the middle of the garlic plant stalk. It is round and unlike the other leaves coming out of the stem of the plant. Wait until you see the flower forming on this tubular stem (it looks like a small bulb of garlic) and cut it off with scissors as far as you can below the flower that is forming. Don’t damage the remaining stem of the plant. This allows all the energy of the plant to make great garlic rather than a flower.
Around late June or July, the tips of the leaves on the garlic plants will begin to turn brown. Wait a week or two to pull up the plants.
Pull the plants and wash the dirt off. Let the roots and stalk stay on for a few days in a cool dry place. Then cut the roots off with a scissor after about five or six days have passed. Leave the stalk on! After another week or so (the stalk wilts) cut the stalk off, discard it, and store the garlic in a cool dry place.
The garlic will keep for many months. Save some bulbs and store them in that cool dry place to plant next fall. Five saved bulbs, when broken into cloves, can yield 30 bulbs for next year’s crop.
Have you ever tried your hand at gardening? Do you have a green thumb, and if so, what types of crops do you grow?
And, speaking of vampires, do you have any sci-fi novels or fantasy books on your summer reading list? Share your favorite summer reads with us – we’d love to hear from you!