This morning, I went outside as I do at the start of each new day, & I saw my friend Tabasco in her little garden.
In general, Tabasco is a very direct & decisive individual, but when it comes to her garden, she gets all starry-eyed, gazing dreamily at her flowers & greens with a loving, beneficent smile on her face.
Today, however, I was a little worried, because she was gazing lovingly as these brown, stricken, stalky things. “Clay Ball,” she said, pointing dramatically, “those stalks lead to buried treasure!” And she got out her trusty shovel & proceeded to dig!
Pretty soon, she had a bunch full of garlic! We washed them outside under the faucet, & here is what emerged:
Then, Tabasco removed the outermost part of the stalk & braided the stems.
She hung the whole thing up to dry from the kitchen ceiling.
I was once again amazed! “Tabasco, how do you grow these things?” I asked her.
This is what she said: Get a garlic from the supermarket in the fall (about very early October), and break it into cloves.
Plant each individual clove, with the pointy size up, about 6 inches apart from one another.
Tabasco’s rule of thumb: Many things like to be planted to a depth which is about the same as the size of the seed: For example, lettuce seeds are just tiny dots, and are planted on the surface with just a dusting of soil over them. Seeds that are maybe a 1/2-inch long, like pumpkin, like to be planted with 1/2-inch of soil covering them, & so on…
Even though the garlic cloves are only about 1 inch long, if you live up North, plant the garlic about 2 or 3 inches deep in the soil, so that it will not freeze during the winter. You can cover with a layer of mulch, such as dried autumn leaves, to keep the soil a little warmer during the winter months.
In the South, you can plant it 1 inch deep.
The garlic lies low, underground, during the cold winter, and you may see green sprouts during thaws–but then in the spring, it will shoot up like some haywire tulip without the flowers!
Let it grow until the stems dry out & fall over–then it is time to dig them up! We harvested it now, in mid-July. The new garlics are not as large as the original one from the supermarket–they look smaller & more delicate.
Thank you, Tabasco!
You’re welcome! she called, from somewhere behind the lettuce patch…
The garlic straight from the garden has a very flavorful, fresh taste I can’t explain! I hope you try to plant some! Here is a little recipe which highlights the fresh garlic taste, jasmine rice with fresh pressed garlic:
Jasmine Rice with Garlic
1 cup rice plus 1-1/2 cups water (to make about 2-1/2 cups of cooked rice)
1 clove fresh garlic
3 tablespoons canola oil
salt to taste
Jasmine rice is a little more expensive, but is a delicious, fragrant rice that is a special treat in many different recipes. You can find it in the international aisle or the rice aisle of the supermarket, or in an Asian grocery store.
For each 1 cup of rice, add about 1-1/2 cups water. Some people use even less water than this, for a very dry, fluffy rice. I use a rice cooker, but if none is available, just cook according to the package directions.
Just place steamy, piping hot rice in a bowl, & add about 2 or 3 tablespoons of canola oil, or more to make a more hearty meal.
Press one clove of fresh garlic onto the rice, salt to taste, & stir! That’s it!
(note: Planting info varies depending on your temperature zone. If you live in Canada or the US, you can look up your hardiness zone right here: http://www.arborday.org/treeinfo/zonelookup.cfm . Knowing what zone you live in is useful when you read the planting directions for many different seeds!)