Onions: Are sensitive to temperature and day length, are photothermoperiodic! Whew! They start bulbing only after enough daylight for a certain number of days. To avoid bolting, in SoCal we need to plant seeds of short day onions in fall, or intermediate varieties in late winter. Most sets are long-day types and won’t work. Plant Grano, Granex, & Crystal Wax seeds in the ground Nov 1 to Nov 10, or bare root in January. Granex stores a little better, all of them are sweet like Vidalia and Maui. If you miss this window, plant intermediate onions in Feb. Onion seeds sprout very easily!
Garlic LOVERS, if your garlic plants haven’t been as vibrant and robust as these in the image, really amend your soil, put them in full sun, feed them! Sometimes add a tad boron and zinc to give them great taste! Give them ample drainage and 24” deep watering.
Garlic is in the genes, I mean, the lily family, related to chives and onions. So pretty! Did you know roses make more pungent perfume, and more perfume, when interplanted with garlic and onions?! Tuck some garlic in among your other flowers and veggies, but NOT with your legumes! Like onions, garlic stunts peas and beans.
Research indicates garlic aids in lowering cholesterol, reducing cardiovascular disease, cancer prevention, relieving cold and flu symptoms.
Planting in the November/December will produce bigger cloves, but you can also plant garlic in the early spring – who can resist more fresh garlic?! Gilroy CA, 30 miles south of San Jose, just up the road from Santa Barbara, is called The Garlic Capital of the World! Gilroy’s Christopher Ranch was, and remains, the largest shipper of garlic in the world! Take note that the 2012 Gilroy Garlic Festival will be July 27, 28, and 29th! So their prime festival garlic roses had to be growing all winter and spring! Count that backwards 7 months, and you have a Dec planting! That means they have more daylight growing time after Winter Solstice as the days lengthen, and more growing time during warmer months! Makes sense, yes?! Garlic takes time – a long growing season and plenty of sun. Be warned that overcast coastal weather may not go well with your garlic aspirations. Also, pause, do you want to tie up that sunny land that long for such a small return? Less insects, no vampires? Ok, read on. Some traditionally plant, not in late October, early November, but on Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, for harvest on the longest day of the year, Summer Solstice, or in July! Your garlic will grow slowly all ‘winter,’ making huge bulbs! It likes the cooler moist weather, and freezes are good for it! You just have to be willing to feed them fat, and wait for them!
Here in SoCal, why not plant some in all the fall months?! That’s three rounds, Oct, Nov, Dec! See what works best in your microniche. If some fail, you will have others!
The garlic most of us are familiar with, commonly found in our grocery stores, are the soft-necked varieties, Artichoke and Silverskin, grown in milder climates with longer days.
California Early and California Late varieties need cold exposure of around 6 weeks below an average of about 40F for proper bulbing and clove development. It is the classic, white skinned ‘artichoke garlic’ of the supermarkets. Continental garlic is more of a generic term covering various white or purple striped hard neck types adapted to more Mediterranean growing conditions. That’s us.
Garlic needs choice generously amended nutritious soil, to be watered deeply, 24”, in fact! Garlic World, at Gilroy CA, says garlic needs twice as much fertilizer as other veggies! And they need feeding during growing. Visualize those hungry bulbs underground. Heavy soil restricts their growth, so you want rich, loose – not water-logged, fertile! When you drive through garlic growing country you can SMELL them! That’s how alive they need to be!
The bigger the seed/clove, the bigger and healthier your plant will become, so plant the huge cloves, reserve the smaller ones for eating and seasoning! Divide them just before planting. Plant pointy end up, 2” deep, 4” apart. Some people plant them 6” deep, others plant them just under the surface. I’ve had them grow both ways, but to keep the bulbs moist and happy, it makes sense to give them at least that 2” depth.
When the tops start to fall over, stop watering, let the smelly little guys dry a week or two, still in the ground. Clever harvesting means to carefully loosen the soil with a spade fork, and not bruise the bulb when you remove it. Let it dry some more in a shady airy place 2 to 3 weeks.
RECIPES? Fries, ice cream, pasta, sauces, soups, salsa, dips, bread, gift braids, pickled, jellied, roasted, cheese, dressings, potatoes, hummus, powdered. Garlic cookies?! At your pleasure. Confessions of a Garlic Festival Food Judge If you both love garlic, know that a couple can celebrate their anniversary by sharing the Forty Clove Garlic Chicken at The Stinking Rose in San Francisco!
Next Week: Delicious December, Winter’s June!
The Green Bean Connection started as correspondence for our SoCal Santa Barbara CA USA, Pilgrim Terrace Community Garden. All three of Santa Barbara city community gardens are very coastal. During late spring/summer we are in a fog belt/marine layer area most years, locally referred to as the May grays, June glooms and August fogusts. Keep that in mind compared to the microclimate niche where your veggie garden is. Bless you for being such a wonderful Earth Steward!