Before I begin, a confession: I did not plant garlic last fall. You are horrified. You are storming away from this website in horror.
Allow me to explain / make excuses. I managed to harvest my garlic early last fall and it was fantastic. The biggest and best garlic harvest we’ve ever had. I grew three varieties: ‘Music’, ‘Persian Star’, and ‘Siberian’. I think I liked the red skinned ‘Persian Star’ best. We had more garlic than we could eat in one season. I fully intended to separate the best and biggest cloves from the harvest to replant in the garden come October. But then October came. And there were deadlines. And I kept saying, I need to get that garlic in. But there was never enough time. I rarely left my desk. I barely had time to practice proper hygiene let alone plant garlic. And that is how the garlic did not get planted. Boo hoo.
Cut to early April when I spoke at the Seeds of Diversity 25th Anniversary. The event also hosted a number of seed and plant vendors, including a young farmer who raises and sells his own garlic. [Update: While cleaning my office, two months after the fact, I found the info sheet that came with the garlic. Wolf Grove Garlic, RR2, Almonte, Ontario] At the show, he was selling forced sprouted garlic that had already been hardened off (properly acclimated to the cold outdoors) and could be transplanted directly into the garden. I figured I might as well give it a try and bought eight plants in four different varieties: ‘Malpasse’, ‘Spanish Anatoli’, ‘French Red’, and a variety developed by his grandfather called, ‘Nono.’
This should turn out to be a fun experiment. I’ve never done this before, having always planted my garlic in the fall. I had planned to plant some cloves in the early spring, as soon as the ground could be worked, in an attempt to get some garlic this year. By this late season method, the most I could hope for were tender garlic shoots and very immature little bulbs at best. I had absolutely no expectation of raising garlic to full maturity this year. But now I do. As long as the plants transplant well, I should have mature bulbs just a little bit later than usual in late summer/fall. I probably won’t have bulbs worth transplanting in the fall of October 2009, but I will have garlic. That’s nothing to scoff at.
However, I did notice something interesting while digging holes to plant the garlic pots in. It turns out that I missed a bulb when harvesting last fall and I’ve got garlic growing after-all. Based on where it is sprouting, the variety must be ‘Music’. Unfortunately, the sprouts are all clumped together, but I’m going to leave them as-is as another experiment in what happens when garlic is accidentally left in the ground to grow on its own.