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A Photo Tour of the Garlic Patch.
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- [ Scapes in the Spring - Order now for spring 2013 shipment. ]
Bed Preparation and planting
I thought people would like to see how a crop develops from the plowing the land through planting, growing harvest and hanging in the barn at our place.
This is just a picture story that summarizes the planting, growing and harvesting cycles of the garlic season and is not meant to be growing instructions as those are on their own page and this is meant to illustrate how we do it here. Click here to go to the Growing Tips page for more information about planting, growing and harvesting garlic.
We plant our garlic in a different place or a different garden every year. Rotating crops is important because it keeps the soil fresh, fertile and free from harmful fungi, nematodes, unwanted bacteria and other pathogens and pests. We start by plowing under whatever is currently growing in the part of the garden where we will grow garlic this season. We try to do this in June so our organic soil additives will have time to make the soil loose, fertile and easy to work with. If we don't get an early start, our fine silty soil is hard and hard to work with. We plow once to turn the sod over and again a week later to cutup and incorporate the vegetative residue into the soil and make it a little looser and again a week later to chip the residue fine and reduce the clods to loose dirt so it is easier to build our elevated beds for the garlic.
On the right - A closeup picture of the Ugly Iron, our homemade bed shaper.
When the soil is loose and soft enough, I attach my ugly but effective homemade bed shaper to the tractor and build the basic beds. I takes several passes to get them built up a little over half way - about 2/3. Then I add the amounts of soil conditioners that are indicated by the soil test. We have our soil tested by Texas Plant and Soil Labs in Edinburg, Texas. They test with organic growing in mind, analyze the soil and make recommendations compatible with the National Organic Program. We purchase the required materials, including green sand and lava sand, humic shale, bat guano, seaweed, molasses, mushroom compost, calcium carbonate, etc., and adding our own aged manure and wood ashes from the fireplace. After the additives are laid on the beds, I usually till them into the beds with a small Mantis tiller but it got stolen and I had to use a rake and hoe. Got a new Mantis tiller this year. After the soil conditioners are integrated into the beds, I run the bed shaper over them a couple more times to get them to the right size and shape I want and then lay a heavy mulch cover of organic material such as hay, straw or mower clippings over them to keep the moisture in and and the soil soft. The beds are left alone until planting time to allow the microbes to do their job and feed the soil.
Right - Bob spreading one of several layers of organic soil additives .
I call this method Intensive Organic growing because I fertilize only the actual growing beds intensively and plant the garlic into these rich beds to grow their best. In the harvesting process, this fertility spreads to the areas between the beds as the beds are leveled and spread around. Eventually the whole garden becomes fertilized, but the garlic gets the fertility it needs to grow large healty bulbs when and where it needs it and then the rest of the garden gets it later. Because rock dusts and minerals are used, they act like long-time slow-release fertilizers and the garden will continue to maintain fertility for years to come and fewer inputs will eventually be needed.
The picture on the right shows mulched beds after they are fertilized with organic soil amendments.
Right - Sometimes it is cool and easy - good growers always make notes.
When it is time to plant the garlic, the planting stock bulbs are broken apart and the bulbs soaked in the baking soda and seaweed overnight to fight fungus and give them an pre-emergent energizing boost. In the meantime, we remove the mulching material only from the beds we will be planting.
If the bed is soft enough I run a hula hoe over the bed to undercut any weeds and rake it out to loosen the tops of the beds or if it's not as soft as I would like I just run the Mantis Tiller/Cultivator up and down the bed. This softens the soil so that the planters' fingers will not be unduly scratched as garlic is planted by bare hands while on your knees in the mulch between the beds.
Once the beds are planted, we run drip irrigation T-tapes between the outer rows for irrigation, cover the holes and lay a new mulch cover, preferrably clean straw or lawn clippings and mark the beds so I know which kinds are where.
Then I water heavily by hand in order to settle the mulch so it will stay in place during strong winds.
The picture on the right shows three different Silverskin garlics (all in left row), each of whose leaves look different.
The garlic will usually emerge from the mulch cover in a couple of weeks and grow throughout the fall and winter and get big and lush in the spring and ready for harvest. If irrigation is needed, it is usually done with the drip tape system and an occasional hand spraying with the hose to give them a drink if it's dry or they are dusty. I try to take time to give them three or four foliar feedings over the fall and winter but discontinue when the bulbs begin to form in the spring. Once the bulbs begin to form in March or so, nothing but water as often as they want it. Additional fertilization at the time do nothing for the garlic and may even build leaves at the expense of bulb size.
The picture on the right shows healthy hardneck garlics with scapes.
It is in the spring as the bulbs are forming that the leaves get the biggest and then you van really tell the differences between the garlics from the surprising differences in the color and size, shape and splay of their leaves (Artichokes' leaves are nearly horizontal while Silvershins are nearly vertical.) You might not think there would be many differences but there are and you can clearly see them as you stand in the garden but it's difficult to capture them on film. Some are big and broad and some are long and slender, some have a definite blue haze while others are even darker blue, while the artichokes are a yellower green. The silverskin garlics have the own green rainbow going as they are all different shades of green and lots of variation in leaf size. Spring is a special time as the garlics aren't the only show around. All around the perimeter of the garden and in between the beds are wildflowers of whatever kinds Mother Earth sends us this year - every year is different because the weather is different and no two are alike.
The picture on the right shows even more differences in garlic foliage.
Mid to late spring is when we harvest the garlic and each cultivar will be ready in it's own time. We shut off water to a given cultivar as it nears the time of harvest and when it's time to pull it, we move back the mulch and remove the T-tapes. We use an undercutting wedge-shaped blade attached to the tractor to harvest mass amounts of garlic without harming either them or their roots as the blade passes under the garlic and breaks up the ground around the garlic and pushes the entire mass upward and we just pick up the bulbs, shake off the dirt and set it aside for immediate removal to the shade. We level and smoothe out the beds and spread it out between the beds, automatically fertilizing as we go. Not all can be harvested that way as some may be too few in number and they are dug by hand using a garden trowel. If a bed contains more than one kind of garlic, I plant the earlier harvesting cultivars on the end of the beds so they are easier to get to and the T-tapes can be trimmed off.
Right - Garlicmeister Bob pulling garlic from the ground with volunteer Mark Vernon in the background.
The picture on the right shows freshly harvested garlic in the barn at last.
The picture on the right shows a wagon load of freshly harvested garlic.
This year when harvest time came, dear friends Mark and Barbara Vernon of Denton, Texas, came and spent a weekend with us and volunteered to help us harvest some of the Burgundy garlic and get it hanging in the barn. They took some photos that we have included on this page. I was too busy harvesting to take any pictures of us doing it and I'm grateful to them for sharing their pics with us. We built a campfire out back and had a cookout and after dinner I played my Indian flute while Mark beat his drums and a decent simulation of music was heard. One year our friend Ron Johnson from the Colony, Texas joined in with his guitar and we did a rousing version of Ghost Riders in the Sky out here on the Texas prairie. The Indian flute makes a great addition to Ghost Riders, giving it an almost haunting sound and an etherial quality. It is the only time I have ever played with other musicians and I really enjoyed it. For me the Indian flute is a solitary thing because there is no one aroud for me to play with. Sometimes I go down to the creek to play and birds come around and sit in nearby trees and wonder about me and I wonder about them, too, but I keep playing anyway.
After being dug gently from their bed, one way or another, we pile them into small wagons or wheelbarrows and take the into the shade and then into the barn where we hang them to dry down, or Cure, as it is called. They are gathered into bundles of 10 - 20 and a loop of string is wrapped around them and we hang them from the ceiling of the breezeway in the barn and label them as to variety, etc. They stay in this curing barn for a few weeks until their roots and necks are completely dried. When fully cured, those for immediate sale will be trimmed and cleaned and placed in the walk-in cooler at 55-60 degreesF. For longer term storage we leave the leaves and roots on and move them to a cooler, darker old wooden shed that used to be a smokehouse under an oak tree and hang the bundles from the rafters. Some varieties keep well all through the winter that way.
The picture on the right shows bundles of freshly harvested garlic hanging in the barn.
The picture on the right shows Bob hanging bundles of freshly harvested garlic in the barn.
The picture on the right shows bundles of freshly harvested Purple Stripe garlics in the barn.
The picture on the right shows bundles of freshly harvested Siberian garlics in the barn.
On the right is the Saturday night backyard bonfire. We have music and laughs as the fire burns and when the wood turns to coals, we put the steaks on to grill.
On the right are a few Rocambole garlics - very flavorful garlics.
On the right are a few Shilla (Turban) garlics garlics.
On the right shows the workdesk of the Shipping/Receiving Office - Check out the garlic poster and the painting that serves as a window.
The picture on the right is of Glenda Hutchins, our weary Mail Carrier picking up the boxes of garlic - We are our local Post Office's biggest customer.
The pleasure of working outside all year is so overwhelming I feel a need to try to capture some images of it to share with others. Not being limited by any roof over your head and feeling the breeze in your face provides a sense of freedom that is not available inside any structure. Yes, it's cold in the winter but long hair and long beard make you feel warmer while short hair and short beard help keep you cooler in the summer. There is no adequate substitute for being out with all kinds of animals and listening to the music of the birds and the buzz of the insects. Yeah, you get a few fire ant bites and such and you have to be careful of the occasional rattlesnake, but that's a small price to pay for being out in nature where everything happens and feeling part of something important, even if it is such a small part.
In the right picture, bluebonnets down by the creek.
In the right picture, Phlox sometimes coats the pastures in the early spring, just before the bluebonnets burst on the scene.
I always feel that I am in the presence of God when I am outside and in the presence of people when I am inside, and that's not a bad thing, just different. After recent droughts our appreciation for all life has increased a lot. Out here you can see the connectedness of all things so much better than you can in town where the concrete and steel obstruct one's vision as well as the view. While I still admire the architecture I'm glad it's in the cities and I'm way out in the country.
It's like being in your own private church and having it open to all the world instead of being enclosed. It's like including all of Nature into your inner circle and being eagerly accepted as part of the greater family.
Life is good.
Not everyone can come out and see for themselves and we'd soon tire of so much company anyway, so I thought I would share our garden with you in pictures that are woefully inadequate to convey what we see, smell and hear or what we feel.
- The information below is from gourmetgarlicgardens.com -
Important notes for credit/debit card users:
This Farmers market is like your local farmers market. Each grower handles their own financial transactions.
Prices and availability of garlic subject to change without notice.
How Our Garlics are Grown
All the garlic for sale in our online farmers market was grown without the use of petrochemical pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers; only natural and non-toxic fertilizers and pest control methods are used.
Some of our growers are Certified Organic and some are Certified Naturally Grown, which we regard as equal to Certified Organic in every meaningful way but without all the bureaucratic entanglements. All our farmers market growers grow organically and some are Certified Organic but not all want to be certified Organic because of the paperwork and reporting requirements and are among the best available sources of sustainable/ organic Garlic and they become Certified Naturally Grown, where the regulation comes from their fellow members rather than a federal bureacracy.
We do not allow growers who use synthetic petroleum-based fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides or herbicides to participate in our farmers market.
All garlic in our farmers market is grown in North America, no others allowed.
We will be adding and deleting and changing the status of varieties often as our growers sell out of some and
add more varieties so check back regularly to see what we currently list as available.
If you don't see what you want, check back again, we may have it later - we receive news about what's available from our growers continually. Or, E-Mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Four ways to buy from us:
If you know the name of the garlic you want to buy you can look it up in an alphabetical listing and click on its name...or
If you don't know the name of a good garlic, look one up in a listing by taste - mild, medium or strong and click on its name...or
Go to our farmers market and select a grower you feel good about and buy direct from them...or
Call me at (325) 348-3049
Order now for shipment in late summer/early fall 2013.
This Farmers market is like your local farmers market.
New - The Complete Book of Garlic is the best, most comprehensive book yet about garlic.
The Complete Book of Garlic
by Ted Jordan Meredith
The Classic Commercial Garlic Growers Guide
Growing Great Garlic
by Ron Engeland
A Miscellany of Garlic
is the newest book about garlic and it is well-written and reads easy as the author has a warm friendly writing style that makes it fun to read.
by Trina Clickner
If you don't see what you want, E-Mail email@example.com
Basic Ordering Information
On any page of this website where the lists of garlic cultivars are displayed you can click on the name of any garlic and get a picture and/or a detailed description of that variety and some buttons you can click on to buy direct from different growers. Just decide how many pounds of which varieties you want from each grower and use your credit card to buy on line.
We make no guarantees or warranties of any kind whatsoever, expressed or implied, with respect to our garlic or the garlic sold by any growers who sell their garlic through our website. We do not guarantee or warrant the fitness, suitability or usability of our garlic for any particular purpose. We state only that the varieties we and the growers who sell through our website ship are to the best of our knowledge, the varieties we say they are. Any and all liability from all causes is limited to a refund of a customer's payment for the garlic in question.
We and the growers who sell through our website take great care to grow, harvest, cure and store our garlic properly and we will not knowingly ship garlic that is damaged, defective or diseased in any way we can see, feel or smell. We pack the garlic so as to minimize any probability of damage in shipment. If; however, you receive garlic that goes bad within 30 days, please call or e-mail the grower immediately stating the problem and return the defective garlic to the grower via Priority US Mail and the grower will either replace it at no additional charge, or refund your money for the defective garlic. It is our desire to provide our customers with the best garlic we can produce and enhance our reputation for excellence - but we cannot be held responsible for what happens after the garlic leaves our care.
All products are for sale to United States addresses only. We are not familiar with import-export laws and do not wish to engage in foreign trade at this time.
More TO COME...
Garlic Books, Garlic Accessories and Gardening Tools, Etc.
- Pictures of our Fabulous spring wildflowers some years. -
Bob Phillips' Texas Country Reporter did a story on me and the garlic for their long running TV program -
click here to see the 6:28 video on youtube:
Garlicmeister, a self-inflicted title for amusement only.
Photo courtesy of Bill Yeates.
If you would like to
communicate with us, please send email to:
Gourmet Garlic Gardens,
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Our site is always under construction. -- This page last updated April 9, 2013.
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