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Growing Garlic in the City

October 19, 2011

October 15th marks the beginning of the garlic planting season. Garlic grows great in urban Vancouver so here are a few tips to get you started.

Start by selecting healthy seed stock. The farmer’s market will have various varieties of locally grown, organic garlic to choose from. Did you know that each variety of garlic will have a unique flavour profile and spice level? Ask the farmer about this and choose a garlic variety that suits your palate preference. Keep in mind that the bigger the garlic clove is when planted the bigger the bulb will be at harvest time.

Garlic loves well drained, rich soil in a sunny location. Soil can be boosted by adding compost or manure. Separate cloves, without peeling them, and plant individually pointy tip up approximately 2″ deep and 6″ apart. Plant is rows or have fun with it and plant in circles or other interesting formations. Cover bedding with grass clippings, leaves or straw and water lightly throughout the winter if there is no rain.

Between February and March the garlic will begin to sprout. By July the garlic plants will produce scapes, which are curly shoots that, if left on the plant will eventually turn into flowers and then seeds. Scapes can be removed and used in stirfries or pesto to add a light garlic flavour to the dish. By the end of July or early August the leaves will begin to turn yellow. Watering should be discontinued at this point as this is the first sign that the garlic is almost ready for harvest. When 3 to 4 leaves are yellow it is time for harvest. Gently loosen the soil around the garlic bulb using your hands or a hand shovel and lift the bulb out of the earth. Soil can be shaken off the bulb or try peeling the outer layer off the bulb. Never wash the bulb as this can invite mildew to grow. Hang garlic to dry and store in a cool, dry location.

Happy planting!

Our From Farms to Forks fundraising gala is fast approaching. For a chance to meet some of BC’s growers and ask all of your gardening questions, tickets can be purchased by calling us at 778-885-1308 or emailing us at admin@growingchefs.ca To check out our full list of chefs and growers, check out our website. We really hope you can join us for this magical night.

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