Ingrid Lackey- Howell, intern reporter
With Halloween creeping up, it’s safe to assume that vampires are around. As any well-informed citizen knows, garlic can keep the undead away. Those who didn’t know this, and don’t have any garlic, should know how to plant some for next year's Halloween.
The most important thing when planting garlic is to make sure that the soil is drained, meaning the soil is not too wet. If the ground is too wet, then the garlic will rot and mold. It is also important that the soil be rich. People can enrich their soil by adding compost to it.
Unlike most plants, garlic is planted in the fall and harvested in midsummer. The best time to plant garlic is in October or November, before the ground freezes. This way the garlic has time to grow and produce a stock right before the winter comes.
Take one clove of garlic from the bulb and do not peel the skin off. Try and use the biggest, best-looking cloves from the bulb. If there are any sunken spots,or discoloration on the clove, do not use it; it could be mold or rot.
Then plant it 2 1/2 times deeper than the clove itself. For example, with a clove that is 1-inch tall, it would get planted roughly 2 1/2 inches in the ground. Ideally, the roots to face the ground. Plant each clove of garlic 6 inches apart, with 9 inches between rows.
After the clove has been planted, spread mulch around the plant to protect it. “Hard neck garlic is suggested for Vermont because it’s more hardy,” said Aaron Locker, owner of the Kingsbury Market Garden in Warren.
Once the garlic overwinters, keep an eye on it until the scape develops. Gardeners should cut off the garlic scapes once they appear. A garlic scape is the stem and that comes out of a garlic clove. If left uncut, it will allow the plant to fully mature and flower. Garlic scapes take away energy from the clove as it’s growing, so it’s best to cut it when it grows in the spring. Don’t cut the whole stem, just the part that is curled. Garlic scapes can also be prepared and eaten in a variety of ways. They can be roasted, used on pizza and even turned into pesto.
A good sign that garlic is ready to harvest is when the bottom leaves start to dry up, but still have green ones on the top. Locker says to harvest garlic when there are five leaves coming from the plant. This will likely happen in July or August. When harvesting garlic, loosen the soil surrounding the bulb and gently pull up the plant. When drying, keep the leaves on the stem and hang the bulbs together in a warm, dry, well ventilated area.