Your reward for growing garlic is the world of flavors that await in every bulb! Garlic’s taste has several dimensions that come alive depending on how the plant is cooked. Shown here, from left to right, are braided softneck garlic, fresh elephant garlic, and purple stripe hardneck garlic.
The last crop to go into the garden, garlic is planted in fall and harvested the following summer. Flavorful, nutritious, and helpful for warding off vampires, garlic also is easy to grow as long as you plant varieties suited to your climate. Fertile, well-drained soils with a near-neutral pH between 6.5 and 7.0 are best for growing garlic.
Garlic Types to Try:
Softneck types grow best where winters are mild, though some tolerate cold to Zone 5. Most varieties do not produce scapes (edible curled flower stalks), but softnecks are great for braiding. Sub types include Creole, artichoke and many Asian varieties.
Hardneck types adapt to cold winter climates, and all produce delicious curled scapes in early summer. Popular sub types include porcelain, purple stripe and rocambole varieties.
Elephant garlic produces a large, mild-flavored bulb comprised of four to six big cloves. Closely related to leeks, elephant garlic is hardy to Zone 5 if given deep winter mulch.
When to Plant Garlic:
In fall, plant cloves in well-drained beds after the first frost has passed and the soil is cool. Cloves can also be planted in late winter as soon as the soil thaws, but fall-planted garlic produces bigger, better bulbs.
How to Plant Garlic:
Choose a sunny site, and loosen the planting bed to at least 12 inches deep. Thoroughly mix in a 1-inch layer of mature compost. In acidic soil, also mix in a light dusting of wood ashes. Wait until just before planting to break bulbs into cloves. Poke the cloves into the ground 4 inches deep and 6 to 8 inches apart, with their pointed ends up. Cover the planted area with 3 to 5 inches of organic mulch, such as hay or shredded leaves.
Harvesting and Storing Garlic:
From early summer to midsummer, watch plants closely and harvest when the soil is dry and about one-third of the leaves appear pale and withered. Use a digging fork to loosen the soil before pulling the plants. Handle the newly pulled bulbs delicately to avoid bruising them. Lay the whole plants out to dry in a warm, airy spot that is protected from rain and direct sun.
After a week or so, brush off soil from the bulbs with your hands, and use pruning shears to clip roots to half an inch long. Wait another week before clipping off the stems of hardneck varieties or trimming and braiding softnecks into clusters. Do not remove the papery outer wrappers, as these inhibit sprouting and protect the cloves from rotting.
Storage life varies with variety and with growing and storage conditions. When kept at 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit, rocamboles store about four months, other hardneck garlic varieties usually last six months, and softneck and elephant garlic store for eight months or more. Hang your cured crop in mesh bags, or braid softneck types and suspend from rafters in a cool, dry basement or garage.
Saving Garlic Bulbs for Planting :
Many garlic varieties fine-tune their growth patterns to the climate in which they are grown, so planting cloves from bulbs you grew yourself can save money and also result in a strain that is especially well-suited to the conditions in your garden.
As you harvest and cure your crop, set aside the biggest and best bulbs as your “seed” stock. One pound of cured bulbs will break into about 50 individual cloves, which is enough to plant a 25-foot-long double row.
If allowed to flower, some varieties produce fleshy bulbils (little bulbs) atop the flower stalk. Elephant garlic often develops elliptical, hard-shelled corms underground outside the main bulbs. Garlic bulbils and corms can both be replanted. The first year after planting, bulbils and corms will grow into small plants that can be harvested as scallion-like “green garlic” in late spring, just before the roots swell. If left unharvested, bulbils and corms develop into full-size bulbs in two to three years.
Garlic Pest and Disease Prevention Tips:
Tiny onion thrips rasp pale grooves into garlic leaves, but they have many natural predators. Keep areas near garlic and onions mowed to reduce the weedy habitat thrips prefer. Monitor populations with sticky traps, and use a spinosad-based biological pesticide to control serious infestations.
Onion root maggots seldom infect garlic planted in soil where onion family crops have not been planted for two years, but the mobile adults may still lay eggs around the base of young plants. Where pest pressure is severe, dust the area around plants with diatomaceous earth in late spring, which is when the egg-laying females are most active.
Prevent fusarium and other soilborne root rot diseases by growing garlic in well-drained, fertile soil. Avoid injuring the roots when weeding, because diseases often enter plants through broken tissue.
Garlic Growing Tips:
Experiment with types and varieties, because each reacts differently to weather and rainfall patterns. A spring hot spell that bothers one variety may benefit another. Our Seed and Plant Finder can help you track down the garlic varieties you want.
To grow garlic greens for cooking, plant whole bulbs 12 inches apart in the fall. In spring, when the greens are 10 inches tall, grab them with one hand, and use your other hand to lop them off with a knife. You should get two more cuttings before the plants give out.
You can make garlic powder by drying thinly sliced garlic at 150 degrees until it’s crisp. Grind to a powder in a food grinder or blender.
Cooking with Garlic:
Without a doubt, garlic works culinary miracles when added to food. The pungency of raw garlic varies depending on the variety, and all types of garlic mellow when cooked. In addition to tossing chopped garlic into soups, stews, and stir-fries, try baking whole bulbs with a little salt and olive oil, and then spreading the soft, creamy flesh on warm bread. If you grow hardneck types of garlic, be sure to harvest the curled scapes that appear in early summer. Scapes can be eaten fresh, or blanched and frozen.
From Mother Earth News
Purslane is one plant or weed, depending on your prospective, your garden always has plenty of. It grows quite happily in rocky poor soil. It also seeds prolifically and the seeds can stay viable for up to 40 years. The question is are you going to weed it, or harvest if for your evening salad?
Purslane is a fleshly leafy green, that has been eaten for at least 2,000 years. It was cultivated in ancient Egypt and was enjoyed by the ancient Romans and Greeks. It was also know to the Arabs in the medieval period, and may have been cultivated in Europe as early as the 13th century.
Today in this country, it's thought of as a pest and sprayed along with the other weeds. If you have this weed consider it a blessing, Purslane not only is tasty but is also highly nutritious. It has the most omega 3 fatty acids (the same fatty acids found in seafood like salmon) of any green vegetable. It's also high in Vitamins A and C, and has some calcium, iron, manganese, magnesium and potassium. So if you decide to eat it, instead of pull it, here are a few ideas on how to prepare it.
The only thing to bear in mind with purslane is that you either want it raw or just lightly sauteed, or else you wanna cook the [heck] out of it, with an acid like tomatoes. Anything in between is likely to result in the purslane being a bit slimy and most folks don't like the texture.
The young smaller leaves and tender stems are best if eaten raw. While the whole plant leaves and stems are edible, most of the time only the leaves are eaten.The moisture rich leaves are cucumber-crisp, and have a tart, almost lemony tang with a peppery kick. The flavor and texture is best when picked, before the plant flowers in the fall and the leaves become tough.
Use purslane in salads or on sandwiches instead of lettuce or pickles. Try a ham and purslane on rye for something different. It pairs well with other summer veggies, like green beans, tomatoes, cucumber and even eggplant. Toss a handful of young leaves into a green salad for some lemony crunch, or add it to pasta, or potato salad.
Once picked, store purslane stems in a jar with just a bit of water, in the fridge, They’ll keep only for a few days, so use them up right away.
Purslane Potato Salad
Extension Educator, Horticulture
Edible Wild Plants of Ohio and Kentucky Journal Economic Botany 31:76-79.
A Few Uncommon Ones For The Culinary Ozark Garden
When we speak of perennial culinary herbs sage, chives, thyme, and rosemary are the most common ones grown by gardeners. Both thyme and rosemary can be short lived in our climate, but sage and chives are tough, hanging on in even the toughest winters and hottest summers.
There are other perennial herbs that do well here, but are not common sights in our gardens. One of my favorites is fennel (Foeniculum vulgare). Fennel is a hardy relative of dill with a familiar anise flavor in both the seeds and leaves due to the presence of anethol. The seeds are often used in Italian cooking, teas, and breads. The leaves give a wonderful flavor to fish. It is an easy plant to grow from seed. It is drought resistant, but has the best flavor if given regular moisture. Fennel tolerates full sun or partial shade and is generally not eaten by deer. A mature plant can be between 3-5 feet tall when in bloom. It is a host plant for the caterpillar of the swallowtail butterfly, so plan to plant some to share. There is a lovely bronze-leaf variety that deserves a place in your flower border.
Salad burnet (Poterium sanguisorba) is also easily grown from seed. Only 12-18” tall when it blooms, it grows from a basal rosette. The flowers, small pinkish balls, rise from the basal leaves and provide ample seeds. Give it a spot in the front of the border in full sun, with regular water and good drainage. It is very adaptable to most soils. The tender leaves taste like cucumber and make a nice addition to salads, dressings, sauces, and butters. I like to add salad burnet to coleslaw or mix it with plain Greek yogurt and fresh dill to make a sauce for fish.
Sorrel (Rumer acestosa) or French sorrel is a plant well known and frequently grown in Europe. Here, it is seldom seen. It is one of the first greens to appear in the spring and is usable throughout the growing season, although its sour, lemony flavor is best in cool weather. In the summer, simply cut back the old leaves and flower stalks and new leaves will appear. Provide regular moisture and a sunny location for it to thrive. I have had the same clump for over 15 years. Even without protection, it survives ice and snow. We enjoy the first spring leaves added to our salads, soups and sauces. It gives an extra tang when added to cooked spinach and other greens. Sorrel can be started from seed or small plants can be purchased.
When I was growing up in the North Dakota, every garden seemed to have a patch of horseradish (Armoracia rusticana) growing in a corner. Now you seldom see it except in jars. It is an easy plant to grow; it is not fussy about soil and is drought resistant. But for the best roots, give it a sunny spot and regular water. It can be an aggressive plant so give it plenty of space and expect it to reach 24” in height. It is sometimes grown as a “catch plant” for larva of some moths. If the leaves are ragged and eaten, cut them down and destroy them. New ones will appear in a few days. Horseradish can be started from a dormant root in early spring. The roots can be harvested in late September through November. Gently loosen the soil around a root and sever it from the plant. Do not dig up the whole plant unless you plan to divide it. Harvested roots keep for months in the crisper of the refrigerator. They can also be frozen and grated while still frozen to add to food. Add grated root to mayonnaise, Greek yogurt, or sour cream for a sauce for beef, sausage, or smoked fish. Make your own cocktail sauce by adding it to a tomato base.
I encourage gardeners to expand their use of perennial herbs. They provide interest to your food and can be the backbone of your herb garden. They are great “pass along” plants to share.
Submitted By: Joanne Ragsdale
One of the current trends is to incorporate edible plants into your flower beds not only is this a great use of garden space, it's practical. The same design principals are used when incorporating edible plants into the landscape to achieve a unified garden.
The most important design elements for an edible landscape are strong, firm lines and structure. The main goal is to put food on the table but the design element should also not be overlooked. Adding edibles to your garden design provides a greater mixture of textures, forms, and colors than a typical ornamental landscape. In order to counterbalance this mix of plants, it helps to almost over-emphasize the line and structure of your landscaping elements. A design consideration with edibles is the seasonal nature of the color-flowers, fruit, and/or foliage-and occasional times of reduced drama due to transplanting, harvesting, and soil cultivation. During these times, the importance of strong lines, as defined by pathways, patios, planters, hedges, evergreens, and structures, becomes evident. Long curving beds or inter-plantings of colorful flowering plants-edible or not-also help tie the design together and provide accents. Edible landscaping is more than just planting edibles, without the backbone of a good design, an edible landscape can become just a vegetable patch.
Rosemary A Great Edible Choice
I've decided I'm going to try to fit some herbs into the flower beds and Rosemary is a natural choice for this area of North Central Arkansas, the plant is deer proof and stays evergreen. So instead of planting Boxwoods for your foundation plantings think Rosemary.
The best variety for this area is winter hardy Rosmarinus officinalis 'Arp'. Discovered in Arp, Texas, by Madalene Hill of Hilltop Herb Farm in 1972. It's a Medium-high, open growth plant which benefits from frequent pruning. It has fragrant, thick gray-green leaves with light blue flowers in the spring. 'Arp' is known as the "winter hardy rosemary", since it's the hardiest variety available (will survive to -10°F). Mature plants can grow to about 5 feet tall and about as wide. If you don't want it to get this big, prune and use all the cuttings in your meals.
Rosemary needs a minimum 4 hours of direct sun for optimal growth and if you have clay soil it needs to be lightened up with compost or sand. Once planted it does not require any fertilizer and is very drought tolerant. It will do fine with as little as 12 inches of rain annually, but an inch a week will make it thrive.
If you watching your weight or are a diabetic this wonderful little herb is natural sweetener has zero calories and is not metabolized by the body. Stevia is native to Paraguay and other tropical areas of the Americas, the stevia plant (Stevia rebaudiana) has leaves packed with super-sweet compounds that remain stable even after the leaves have been dried. Which make it a perfect plant, you can use it fresh from the garden and then dry the leaves in fall before the first frost to use all winter. If you are a tea drinker stevia leaves are a great no calorie sweetener. Stevia can substitute for some, but not all, of the sugar used when baking, because it does not provide all of the multiple functions that sugar does in baked goods.
Growing stevia is easy in well-drained beds or large containers. It likes full sun but if does benefit from afternoon shade in the heat of the day. Stevia grows best in warm conditions similar to those preferred by basil. Plants grown in warm climates will grow to 24 inches tall and wide. Plant 3 -5 plants for a year’s supply of dried stevia leaves. This is considered a tender perennial, (zone 8+) but I had the same plant come back for several years. I planted it right into the garden and harvested the leaves before the first killing frost in the fall. I then mulch the area with about 4 inches of oak leaves. It always made it thru the winter, but it's late to come back to life in the spring so don't give up on it.
If you plan on harvesting the leaves you will want to plant it where you can access it often to harvest the leaves. In order to maximize the leaf production you must trim back the plant several time to induce branching. Make your first trimming when the plant is about 8 inches tall in the early spring and then again in early summer cut back the plant in about half. Stevia can be grown from cuttings and I think it's easier than from seed. So use your cuttings to root new plants for the plant sale or to give as gifts.
Left unpruned, stevia will grow into a lanky, upright plant that produces tiny white flowers in late summer. To maximize leaf production, you must trim back the plants several times to induce branching. You can use the leaves from the stem tips, or root them in moist potting soil to increase your supply of stevia plants. Stevia can be dried in bunches like other herbs, but you will get better quality by drying it in a dehydrator or a 150-degree- Fahrenheit oven until crisp. Store dried leaves in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. Wait until you’re ready to use stevia leaves to crush them.
This is definitely an herb you need to add to your garden, and another benefit the deer won't touch it. Below is a chart to give you an idea of how sweet stevia is compared to sugar. Stevia can be used in cooking but does not have the same properties as sugar so I have not been satisfied with the results. I use my stevia mainly for beverages, both hot and cold all year round. Every calorie counts and you know what chemicals it has been exposed to coming fresh from your garden.
Granulated Sugar Stevia
1 tsp. 1/8 tsp.
1 T. 3/8 tsp.
1/4 c. 1 1/2 tsp.
1/2 c. 1 T.
1 c. 2 T.
Submitted by Tamara Carl
Edited by Joan Burr
If you have not grown this leafy herb, which is a relative of the mustard family, you're in for a treat. Since it's a cool weather plant, now is the time to be thinking about getting it into your garden. It has elongated, dark green leaves that look like an elongated oak leaf and the plant resembles loose lettuce.
The flavor of the leaves is slightly hot and peppery, especially when eaten raw. Arugula is very low in calories and is a good source of vitamins A and C, folate, calcium, and magnesium. It can be eaten raw, added to salads with other salad greens, or cooked. The leaves are excellent when sauteed lightly in olive oil or steamed and added to pasta dishes. The leaves can also be made into pesto and served with pasta or potatoes or as an accompaniment to roasted or grilled meats. I find arugula especially good raw on sandwiches instead of lettuce to give the sandwich a bit of a kick. If you are lucky enough to have a large quantity I have dried it and ground it up to use as a rub along with other herbs as a marinade for chicken or beef.
A recipe for a very quick, slightly messy lunch or snack
This will also be posted on the blog so it's easy to find.
Arugula/Egg/Salsa Wrap (serves 1)
Olive oil1 egg
Medium-sized flour tortilla
Several arugula leaves
Spoonful of tomato salsa (I use Pace brand)
Break an egg into a heated skillet with a little olive oil.
Immediately pierce the yolk.
When the egg is about halfway cooked, top it with the tortilla.
Cook briefly, so the egg and tortilla are stuck together.
Use spatula to flip the tortilla/egg over and add cheese if desired.
Cook (either side up) just until egg is done enough to suit you.
Remove from skillet and top with arugula and salsa.
Roll it up burrito-style.
Submitted by Tamara Carl
Recipe submitted by Joan Burr
Edited by Joan Burr
Every year the International Herb Association chooses an 'Herb of the Year." This year's selection is the genus Artemisia. This diverse herb family contains many different plants, from the highly decorative Artemisia ludoviciana 'Silver King' to the delicious and tender French tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus 'Sativa'). You may know an Artemisia by the name Sweet Annie, Mugwort, Wormwood, Tarragon, Southerwood or Sagebrush. Artemisia has a long history, and has been used to heal, create tasty beverages and even decorate our homes.
Many Artemsias have silvery foliage that is fern-like, but the foliage and form of Artemisias vary widely. Some have dark green narrow leaves, while others have broad leaves. The shape and form of Artemisia vary from small rounded bushes, to low sprawling mats, with many variations in between. There are even species that form small trees.
Artemisia dracunculus 'Sativa', commonly known as French tarragon, is a perennial herb with long, light green leaves and tiny greenish or yellowish white flowers. French tarragon is a culinary herb that has a sweet anise flavor, and it can be used in salads, sauces and to top soups. It's also great paired with shellfish, fish, chicken and turkey. For the traditional Bearnaise sauce it's an essential ingredient.
Sun: Full Sun to Part Sun
Soil type: Sandy, Loamy
If you are purchasing the plant be aware that Russian tarragon (Artemisia dracunculoides) is very closely related to French tarragon but has no anise flavor at all. Sometimes they are mislabeled so ask to taste a leaf to make sure you are getting French tarragon. There is also a Mexican tarragon, which is not in the same family as the French or Russian. It's a marigold (Tagetes lucida), grown as an annual. The leaves have similar oils to those of French tarragon and can be used as a culinary stand-in for French tarragon. When purchasing tarragon, make sure the plants in 4 inch pots have at least three green shoots, and buy them in the spring to plant in your garden before the summer heat sets in.
Submitted by: Tamara Carl
Edited by Joan Burr
International Herb Association (www.iherb.org)
Examiner.com Artemisia Herb of the Year
This classic herb provides delicate flavor with minimal effort by Andrew Yeoman Fine Gardening
Old farmers Almanac
Baxter County Master Gardener Program • University of Arkansas System • Division of Agriculture • © 2013 BCMG