Learn the Way of the Garlic Bulb with Kodiak Public Library

garlic_flickr_denish_c.jpgBulbs of garlic. Photo by Denish C/Flickr

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

Garlic is low in all the substances doctors tell us to avoid – like sodium – and high in vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, iron, and calcium. It’s also delicious. And fragrant. That’s incentive enough to grow it alongside vegetables that thrive in the Kodiak environment, like carrots or rhubarb.

You can learn all about growing your own garlic at the Kodiak Public Library’s upcoming evening class, which is one the workshops in the library’s Kitchen Gardeners series. Workshop leader, Lisa Booch, says she first grew garlic one summer in Washington State, where she grew up.

“I poked a few little cloves of garlic into my garden and I did it in the spring, and it wasn’t even seed garlic, and I planted them way too close together. And by gosh by golly, I did everything wrong, and I still got little tiny garlic bulbs. And I thought wow, if you could do everything wrong and still end up with something, what would happen if you did it right?”

She says garlic became an obsession.

“I think at my craziest, I was growing around 2000 bulbs at a time and I did that one year and decided this is nuts, I have a full time job, I must cut back. So, I cut back to about a 1000 bulbs or growing a thousand bulbs, but then it didn’t really help because I planted 1000 onions to go with my thousand garlic.”

Booch says garlic is easy to grow and it waits underground through the colder months.

“I think the most exciting thing about garlic is looking out the window at winter time and knowing you have a crop in the ground that’s doing its thing. Garlic is kind of an interesting plant. You plant it in the fall and the first thing that happens is the root growth. And the roots will continue to grow in the soil under the ground unless the temperatures drop below about 27 degrees.”

She says we generally harvest the garlic bulb in July.

“And the size you get there of course depends on the size of the roots and the size of the green, so although garlic will grow if you plant it in the spring, you just aren’t going to have the success and size that you would get if you planted it in the fall.”

She says although these last two summers have been especially warm, Kodiak’s wet and windy environment does present some challenges to the average garlic grower.

“It doesn’t like to have wet feet, so you really need to put it in raised rows, get it up so that it has really good drainage, and I will mulch it, put some seaweed and straw over it, and then I’ve also been known to stick a sheet of visqueen over the top just to cut down on the amount of water filtration in there. Because it does not like to sit in wetness.”

You can learn more tricks of the trade at the workshop next Wednesday, September 16 at 6 p.m. Entry is free and Booch says all you need to do is show up.

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