Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Garlic revisited

In the interest of fairness after my rant against coddling garlic plants last week, here's a demonstration of the difference in size of the garlic, depending on how well the plant is treated.

The pile on the left was given everything a garlic plant could want -- manure and mulch and weeding and full sun. (I still left the scapes intact and pulled the bulbs out of the ground instead of digging them, so they didn't get quite the full royal treatment.)

The pile on the right got the worst of everything -- no additions to the soil, no weeding, no mulch and pretty much full shade once the nearby tree leafed out. The three in the middle (the ones with a reddish tint and the greenest stems) are also self-seeded, but in reasonably good soil (although no added manure), and a good amount of sun, but no mulch or weeding.

While the most mistreated bulbs are emphatically smaller, the middle bulbs (no coddling, but full sun) are about the same size as the smallest of the coddled bulbs, which you can see just to the left of, and slightly above, the three center bulbs.

So. Coddling will produce the biggest bulbs, and it's worth doing if you can. If you have less than ideal conditions, though, you can still grow garlic. I pulled forty of the little bulbs in about five minutes (and there were at least a  hundred more to be pulled on another day), and that was the sum total of the work that went into them, since they self-seeded, and I didn't fertilize or weed or do anything except pull them out of the ground, really. They're smaller, but they taste the same, and you can't beat the minimal investment in growing them!

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