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Space garlic eight inches apart if you have room when planting them. Planting garlic with strawberries is a great space saving strategy.

week of October – but no earlier. Cool, frosty nights send a clear message to keep shoots tucked inside the bulb, while the accumulated warmth of summer lingers for months in the soil, allowing roots to grow even as snow arrives. A well-developed root system is what sets the stage for garlic to poke up early in spring, established and ready to grow into a prized harvest. Garlic thrives in well drained, loamy soil with lots of

compost mixed in. An excellent strategy is to amend garlic beds with compost and leaf litter each fall, ahead of plant- ing. The bulbs can be planted into the ground or into low raised beds (minimum 4 ft. by 4 ft. by 11 in. high), but may not survive winter when planted into other types of containers. Garlic requires a sunny location and ideally beds should be maintained, weed free and have access to early summer irrigation. Although garlic is unhappy in a weedy bed, it can grow very successfully tucked in among smaller companion plants such as strawberries (a great space saving

strategy). The most important consideration when choos- ing a site for garlic is to avoid soggy ground or areas that do not get good air movement. Growing garlic in the home garden is easy, except where the bulbs are subject to poor soil aeration.

Planting and care Planting is simple: gently push individual cloves approxi-

mately four inches into the soil, with the pointy side facing up. With hardneck garlic the pointy side must face upwards, or else plants will grow at an angle which causes trouble for the crop in spring. The papery wrapper should be left on the cloves as you plant. Space bulbs eight inches apart if you have lots of room, or a little tighter if space is limited; tighter spacing yields many smaller cloves while larger spac- ing encourages the largest cloves. A sprinkle of bonemeal is recommended at time of planting, as phosphorous is the major nutrient associated with root development. Mulching of the garlic bed is wise, as this alleviates the

likelihood of garlic sending up shoots in fall. A thick layer of leaf mulch is perfect, up to four inches. Not only will this provide insulation, but the leaf material will ultimately break down and become a nutrient and beneficial micro- organism resource for the crop. Come spring, the to-do list includes weeding and also

Hardneck garlic Hardneck garlic is not one type of

plant, but rather a diverse group of culti- vars which can be organized into subcat- egories. Although there are many clues as to which garlic falls into what category, researchers have applied modern genetic testing to accurately classify hardneck garlic strains, helping growers provide quality information on the lineage and characteristics associated with the bulbs (many of the hardneck varieties are heir- looms that were brought to Canada by immigrants). Just as with fine wines, the gourmet garlic renaissance is all about savouring complexity, depth and variety. Here is an overview of the four most

significant categories of hardneck garlics, and the qualities generally associated with each.

Marbled Purple Stripe • Medium to hot flavour, with excel- lent “classic garlic” pungency

• Large, highly consistent clove size • 6 - 8 cloves per bulb • Very reliable in the garden • Examples include: Russian Red

Porcelain • Strikingly beautiful, with pure white wrapper

• Fewer cloves but very large • Easy to peel and easy to separate from the head

• Store 6 - 7 months • Examples include: Majestic, Music and Georgian Fire

Purple Stripe • Gorgeous purple streaked wrappers • 5 - 6 medium sized cloves • Excellent for roasting • Distinctive looking plants, with widely splayed foliage and tightly curling scapes

• Examples include: Chesnok Red, Siberian and Persian Star

Rocambole • Hottest, most complex in flavour, and later to mature

• Thin skins and large cloves that chef’s love

• Shorter storage time but most complex flavour profiles

• Examples include: German Red & Ukranian Garlic

Beautiful Gardens 2015 • 11

Photo by Christian Ries.

Photo by Dwight Sipler.

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