Late last fall I came across an article on growing garlic that really peaked my interest. When I started looking for bulbs it was late October and everyone was sold out! The Northern folks probably already had their garlic in the ground for weeks before I even though about ordering. Generally speaking, garlic grows better in cooler areas as the bulbs should be planted in the Fall when soil temperature is at least down to 60*. The bulbs need plenty of chilling hours before Spring to be able to form. We don't have a whole lot of cold weather and that makes me a little worried! I have found several local farmers who are growing garlic with great success, though, so I do have hope!
This year I was a little more prepared and started looking through seed catalogs. The garlic you get from the grocery store is usually sprayed with an anti-sprouting chemical and is probably grown with nasty pesticides!! My first choice was to order from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange because I was planning on getting other seeds along with the garlic bulbs. I decided to to nix the seeds to be able to focus more on the garlic and began searching for individuals offering bulbs for sale. I hopped on one of my favorite websites, Local Harvest and found Bobbette's Naturally Grown Produce, a certified naturally grown small farm out of Liberty, KY. I purchased a softneck artichoke variety called Inchelium Red and Heirloom Cherokee, a hardneck variety. I'm looking forward to seeing which will do the best for me!
For the bed I tilled up a 6 1/2' x 6 1/2' bed in a sunny spot and used old fence posts for the edges. I added in top soil and mushroom compost, then tilled again to incorporate the different soils together. Our soil is pretty sandy and drains well, but I wanted to add more organic matter. My garlic has already made it in (I ordered on Tuesday and got it on Friday!!) but I am waiting for cooler weather to put it in the ground... it's been in the mid 80's all week. After planting I will add a heavy coat of mulch to keep the weeds at bay and then fish emulsion for fertilizer in the Spring. Wish me luck!!! :)