Our first attempt at planting garlic was a successful one! In mid-October of 2008, we planted German Stiffneck garlic, which we obtained from our local garlic guy at the Dane County Farmer's Market. We chose this variety for its reputation of strong flavor. Additionally, we searched for a large head of garlic because we had read that larger cloves result in larger heads. We have found this to be true.
We buried our 8 large individual cloves 1-2 inches deep and 6 inches apart. Then, we covered the garlic bed with 6-8 inches of leaf mulch.
In early spring, we pushed away some of the leaf mulch in order to give the garlic shoots room to pop through and get some sun!
Throughout June, we cut garlic scapes, which are the the flowers that shoot off the main stalk. By cutting the scape, the plant puts all of its energy into the bulb, resulting in the garlic heads having a stronger flavor. Plus, garlic scapes are great additions to spring food! We use them as we would a garlic clove.
Yesterday, we harvested the heads of garlic. Once the stalks are about 30% yellow, the plants are ready to be dug up. The garlic can be used right away, but the flavor won't be as strong as cured garlic. To cure the garlic, leave the pulled garlic in the sun (maybe on your porch) for 3-5 days. Then it can be stored for a longer period.
We've decided to cure six heads and use the other one for basil pesto. Yum!
Basil Pesto (all ingredients can be modified to make your taste buds happy!)
3 cloves of garlic
3 cups of fresh basil
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Put everything in a food processor except for the olive oil. Pulse until it is coarsely chopped. Simultaneously, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. The pesto is ready when it looks like a runny paste.
Can be frozen or used immediately.