Time to grow garlic in Nevada County | TheUnion.com

Time to grow garlic in Nevada County

Submitted to The Union

America's largest selection of certified organic seed garlic is right in Nevada County.

The Grass Valley warehouse of Peaceful Valley Farm & Garden Supply (online at GrowOrganic.com) smells more like an Italian restaurant thanks to the hundreds of pounds of gourmet seed garlic in storage. Seed garlic is not really a seed, it's a head of garlic.

To plant the "seeds," simply break the head into cloves and tuck them into fall garden soil. Each clove will develop into a full head of garlic by next summer, which means you can harvest about 10 new garlic heads for each head of seed garlic planted.

Peaceful Valley sells garlic by the pound, and this year the company added a new Seed Garlic By The Head farm stand to their Grass Valley store.

Customers can select from 11 varieties of hardneck garlic to try in their gardens.

Garlic is an easy crop to grow. It doesn't attract insect pests.

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Planted in the fall, it takes care of itself through the winter, puts up edible stalks (called "scapes") in late spring, and browns its leaves in summer to signal that it's time to dig and harvest.

Softneck garlic is the standard garlic sold in grocery stores. The taste is mild, and the soft necks of the plants can be braided for great-looking storage.

Peaceful Valley has 11 kinds of hardneck garlic ranging from rich and spicy (Music) to very hot (Georgian Fire), along with softneck and elephant garlic.

Growing garlic

How: Garlic does best and grows largest in fluffy, well-drained soil.

Plant it in a container, a raised bed, or right in the ground.

Gophers love it, so if those rodents are regulars in your garden, be sure to use gopher wire to line the raised bed where you plant it, or plant inside gopher wire baskets.

Where: Here's the crop rotation tip: Don't plant garlic in the same spot where you've grown garlic, onions, leeks or chives in the past three years.

Plant the cloves 4 to 6 inches apart in rows that are 18 inches apart.

Mulch the newly planted garlic with a few inches of dry leaves or straw (NOT hay, which has seeds). Take the mulch off in the spring after the danger of frost is past.

When: Plant just after the first frost, which for the foothills will be late October and in Sacramento and Auburn, mid-November.

Watering: Water after you plant the cloves, and then keep the soil moist until the rains start. Leave it alone until the rains stop, and keep it watered until you harvest garlic in late July.

For a free video series about organic gardening, including How to Grow Garlic, visit http://www.GrowOrganic.com.

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