It has been a while since we’ve checked in with the garlic we planted last fall. There’s a reason for that. Other than possibly stopping by every few weeks to say “what up garlic?”, you shouldn’t have done anything. That’s right, no pampering, no fertilizing and please, please, no watering.
Struggle makes your garlic taste better. If you water it, it will be bland. If you’re looking for bland, grow potatoes. You want your garlic to be like a street smart, flea-bitten ragamuffin with a heart of gold. …that’s not a weird metaphor, right?
So what is the one thing you ought to do before your garlic is ready to dig up? In the interest of dragging my street urchin garlic bulb story out…your garlic needs to get in a knife fight.
Garlic, I’mma CUT you. Uh, no, seriously. Don’t worry, chicks dig scars.
You see those corkscrewing shoots coming out of the garlic greens? Those will turn into garlic flowers if you let them. Flowers are all well and good, but as we all learned in science class, they’re part of the plant’s reproductive system. Back to our garlic urchin…if we leave the flowers on, it’s like little Joey Garlic gets distracted by a pretty little she-garlic-urchin and completely forgets to pull himself up by his boot straps.* We can’t have that! We want, uhm, “Joey”, to grow up into the biggest, most successful and delicious garlic bulb he can be!
*Please note I am not suggesting that sterilizing street urchins, or anyone else is a good idea.
Cut the shoots off as close to the leaves of the garlic as you can get. Now you can cook with them (sort of like chives) or just throw them in a vase for a quirky bouquet (my preferred use). If you DO put them in a vase, know that as you keep them, they will lose their curl.
Alright! Now go back to ignoring your garlic. Joey is never going to make it on his own if you keep coddling him. Sheesh.
(We’ll talk digging them up in another month or two)