Friday, September 14, 2012

Becoming an A.G.G. (amateur garlic grower)

I recently took a class about successfully raising garlic. You may wonder "Why?" especially after my early boasting about garlic. I'm of the school that's there's always something new to learn, and in this case, the class confirmed everything I knew about garlic (not a bad thing to do), and I learned a couple of new things.

The class was presented by Gary Kuzynski, A.G.G. (amateur garlic grower :). This garlic class is actually one part of a series of five classes that Gary presents every springtime. He presents this part again in the autumn because it's nearly time to plant garlic. He said that at the end of the class, we were all A.G.G., that's cool, I got a title after a 90-minute class! I asked if I could write about some highlights in my blog, and he told me to freely share information on my blog. I'll let you know when I learn when Gary's springtime series will take place.

Planting according to the moon

My Duganski hard-neck garlic, planted in Oct. '11 and harvested July '12.
One of the highlights of the class and something I certainly didn't know about is that if you care, you can plant garlic (an all other plants) according to the phases of the moon.

Plants that grow up above the ground prefer to be planted during the first and second quarters, that's between the new moon and the full moon. On the other hand, plants that grow below the ground prefer to be planted during the third and fourth quarters, between the full moon and the next new moon. It gets even more detailed, for example, garlic is best planted during the third quarter shortly after the full moon.

In 2012, the ideal time to plant garlic, according to this moon planting philosophy, is either early October, or early November.

However, Gary cautioned us that it's possible to plant garlic too early. Last year, I planted my garlic sometime in October, and I know that it started to sprout shortly after I planted it. This is not disastrous, but does take a withdrawal from the seed clove in the autumn, which will result in stunted garlic the next year. If my garlic was stunted this year, I can't wait to see my garlic next year!

According to the moon table that Gary provided us, the very best time to plant garlic is on Saturday, November 3. Sunday the 4th is okay to, but starting the 5th, other elements that I won't get into right now could result in a less ideal planting time. During the class, I looked at my calendar, and found that I am free on Saturday November 3, so that’ s when I’m planting garlic.

Acquiring garlic seed yet this year

If you have not ordered garlic from a mail-order seed supplier, it's most likely too late to order from them, but don't worry. You can still acquire garlic to plant this fall from your local farmers market or greenhouse.

It's important to note that most garlic sold in grocery stores has been treated not to sprout. You may get a few successful plants, but you'd be much better off buying organic untreated garlic. If you've got little time, ask the farmer what variety you are buying and you can look it up later online.

I'll write post about planting techniques closer to planting time.