8 Tips to Help Your Garlic Thrive

Garlic is one of my favorite crops. First there are few dishes cooked in this house that don’t include at least one clove. Second it’s super easy to grow. It generally has very few pest and disease issues. It also does well in storage. Absolutely perfect for backyard gardeners and farmers alike.

However just because garlic is an easy keeper doesn’t mean you can just throw it in the ground and ignore it. Read on for tips to help you get the best harvest.

Prepare the bed before planting.

Garlic can actually handle a range of soil conditions but does best in well-drained, loose soil. If you can, work in some organic matter like compost, aged manure, or well rotted sawdust and your garlic will do better. You may also want to consider using a garden fork or broad fork to lift the soil adding more air space.

Plant at the proper depth and spacing.

A proper depth and spacing will allow the bulbs to form well so you get nice size cloves and more uniform bulbs.

Keep it weeded.

Unless you live in a place with a lot of winter snowfall and consistent freezing temperatures you’ll probably need to do a bit of weeding throughout the fall, winter, and spring. It won’t be as bad as your regular season crops but it’s still important. Weeds compete for water, nutrients and if they get ahead of your garlic, light and space.

Keep it watered.

Especially if you live in a dry area it’s important to remember to water garlic while it’s actively growing. Garlic has shallow roots so for good bulb development it needs moist soils.

Use mulch.

Keeping you garlic properly mulched is essential for a healthy harvest. Mulch is important to keeping your garlic protected from frosts before it gets established. It also holds moisture, blocks weeds, and decomposes to add nutrients. It may be necessary to add more mulch in the spring depending on how much your mulch decomposes. You can also add a little compost mixed in with the mulch to give the garlic a little nutrient boost.

If you’re growing hardneck garlic, harvest the scapes.

Scapes are the flowering part of the garlic. If you clip them off while they’re still fairly small the plant will put more energy into the bulb instead of flowering. Garlic scapes have the added bonus of being delicious!

Let your garlic dry out before harvest.

About two weeks before you harvest you’re garlic you should remove the mulch and stop watering. This allows the garlic to begin drying for curing and storage.

Lastly read the Southern Exposure Garlic and Perennial Onion Growing Guide.

It has tons of good information for planting, growing, harvesting, curing, and storing garlic.

Vegetarian Tortilla Soup (V & GF)

Each fall my mind goes straight to pumpkin pie, stuffed squash, and long simmering stews filled with root vegetables. However each fall we always end up with tons of delicious fresh peppers.

Truly eating seasonally often means keeping the classic fall vegetables that store well for the dead of winter and using up what will go bad in the meantime.

This soup is one of the best, easy meals that will use up the end of summers vegetables but still give you that warm, filling fall meal.

Here’s what you’ll need:

1 quart of plain canned tomatoes

1 quart water or vegetable stock

1/4 cup tomato paste (optional for thicker soup)

1 1/2 cup of cooked pinto, black, or beans of choice

2 bell peppers

1 jalapeno pepper

1/2 large onion

2 large carrots

2 cloves of garlic

1/2 tsp salt*

1 TBS chili powder

1 tsp cumin

olive oil for sauteing

Directions

Begin by dicing the carrots and sauteing them with olive oil over medium heat until they begin to soften. While they’re cooking dice the onions and peppers and then saute them with the carrots until the onions are translucent.

Stir in the tomatoes and vegetable stock or water. If you have whole tomatoes you should break them up as you add them. Add the garlic, salt, and other spices and allow to simmer on low heat for 15 minutes or as long as desired for a thicker soup.

Add your beans when the soup is almost done so they don’t overcook and turn to mush. When they’re hot it’s ready to eat!

Garnish with fresh chives if available and serve with tortilla chips.**

Notes

Feel free to make substitutions for what you have on hand like fresh tomatoes or different types of peppers. This soup is really easy to play with.

*You may need less salt if your vegetable broth has a lot of salt.

**My favorite tortilla chips for this recipe are served hot. Take soft tortillas and fry them with olive oil and a bit of salt until they’re golden brown and crispy. For gluten free be sure to use corn tortillas.

 

Enjoy!

 

DIY Autumn Wellness Tea

In my mind fall is this perfect time of year when we welcome the cool crisp air, autumn festivities, and the break from a busy summer season. It’s a time for crafts and reading and enjoying and celebrating the harvest with family and friends.

Unfortunately the reality is that autumn is usually just as busy as summer. There’s always more gardening projects whether it’s repairing tools for next year or putting up the last of this year’s peppers. Throw that in with visits from relatives, less sun exposure and vitamin D, tons of stress, and unhealthy food and you get the start of flu season!

One of my favorite ways to try and combat this problem, besides learning when to take a break, is to drink herbal tea. I’m not willing to give up my Halloween goodies or Thanksgiving feast but I can still make sure my body is getting some of the good stuff.

My favorite autumn tea blend includes the following herbs.

Echinacea any variety

Echinacea is an excellent herb for this time of year because studies have shown that it make act as an immuno-stimulant and even increase the production of white blood cells. All parts of the plant can be dried and used for tea. If you haven’t grown it yet it’s fairly easy to cultivate and is perennial in zones 3-9.

Ginger

While ginger certainly adds nice flavor to this blend it too has medicinal properties that are great for fall. Ginger is high in vitamin C, magnesium, and other important minerals. It also helps with nausea, heartburn, inflammation, and respiratory ailments.Plus it adds a nice warmth to this fall beverage.

Catnip

Not just for cats, catnip is actually very beneficial for humans. It has a calming effect and contains high levels of vitamins C and E to help keep your immune system strong. Catnip is another easy herb to grow and is perennial in zones 4-10.

Licorice Root *optional*

If you’d like your tea a bit sweet without the added sugar consider adding some licorice root. Beyond its flavor licorice root also has the added benefit of soothing upset stomachs and easing coughs. I put it as optional as its flavor is not everyone’s favorite.

 

To make the tea blend 4 TBS of dried echinacea, with 2 tsp of dried ginger, 2 TBS of dried catnip, and 1 TBS of dried licorice root (or more to your taste) in a small jar. Then steep 1 TBS of tea mix per 8oz of boiling water for 5 minutes. You may find you like it stronger and can use more than 1 TBS.

If you wish you can use a tea ball or strain the herbs out before drinking your tea.

 

Enjoy your tea, your harvest, and all the important people and events in your life this autumn. Stay healthy and happy!

Saving the Past for the Future