When beginning gardeners start planning their garden, garlic is most likely not the first crop to come to mind. But especially for a gardener who enjoys the rewarding nature of gardening, garlic is the ideal addition to the home garden.
Garlic, unlike other crops, is ideally planted in the fall and harvested in early summer. I experimented with it a few years ago and it has taken residence in its own raised bed since. I’ve found two compelling reasons to keep garlic in my garden, but there is one reason it may not be the best fit for everyone.
Growing Garlic is Easy and Rewarding
Garlic is the easiest annual crop I grow. I simply plop the cloves in the ground in the fall, cover them with mulch, and wait. When the days begin lengthening and the temperature warms, little green shoots emerge from the soil. In my area, they grow strong and tall until they are ready to harvest in early June.
Here is a Facebook Live video I did on the day in June I harvested my garlic:
Garlic is the Perfect Succession Plant = Twice the Harvest
Because I harvest garlic in early June, I’ve learned to grow peppers in the same space. After starting my pepper plants from seed indoors, I transplant them to the garlic bed in May. The garlic is tall and strong, and the pepper seedlings nestle in between the rows. After I dig up the garlic in June, the peppers take off in the heat, giving me two crops from one garden space.
Here is a video where I show exactly how I use succession planting with garlic:
But Growing Garlic is Not Cost-Efficient (At First)
Since you don’t want to plant garlic you bought at the grocery store (they aren’t certified disease-free and can introduce harmful diseases into your soil), I had to buy my first year’s supply (and this year’s since I didn’t save enough from last year’s harvest to plant). Frankly, I was shocked at how expensive it was — my last purchase cost $14.50 for a half pound! This gave me 4 heads, with about 10 cloves each.
Here is a Facebook Live video I did when I received my garlic shipment, plus a few quick tips on planting garlic:
If I plant 40 cloves, they will hopefully give me 40 heads of garlic. That puts my cost per pound at roughly $5.90. Since I can buy garlic at the grocery store for $0.39 per pound, you can see it’s not cost-efficient the first season.
BUT if I plant and harvest enough garlic to save the cloves for the next year, theoretically I can continue planting garlic year after year and not have to buy from the store at all again. It will take a few years to break even, but once I do, I’ll have free garlic!
Bottom line: if you’re looking to gardening to save money right away, garlic isn’t your most cost-effective crop. But if you’re looking at the long-term gain, enjoy the fun of growing an easy crop, and want to make double use of a garden space, growing garlic is a perfect addition to your garden.
Do you plant garlic in your garden?
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