Most people can’t imagine life without garlic. It is highly aromatic and makes your food taste wonderful. Typically, garlic is a staple in many kitchens, regardless of the season.
However, some people dislike the idea of buying it from the store. It seems to cost a lot. Plus, garlic really does have a season. That’s why so many have decided to try planting spring garlic in their kitchens or outside on the patio.
It’s a great way to have this bulbous vegetable available when you want it most. Plus, you don’t have to spend extra at the store.
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What Is Spring Garlic?
Garlic is typically planted in the fall right before the first frost of the season. Then, it gets harvested in late summer. However, in March and May, once the ground thaws, spring garlic is there to gather.
Often, spring garlic is referred to as green garlic. The cloves aren’t fully formed yet. In fact, it looks similar to a spring onion than a garlic bulb.
The top is a bright and vibrant green. Plus, the bottom bulb is white and might have flecks of purple or pink in it.
Generally, you can’t find spring garlic in the store, though it’s probably at the farmer’s market. It’s usually best to grow it yourself if you like the taste.
The flavor of the spring garlic is sweet, mild, and fresh. It almost has a nutty aroma to it, which is a sharp change to the pungent garlic cloves you’re more likely to find at the store.
However, the change of flavor is what makes it so versatile. You can use it in any garlic recipe. Plus, you can use spring garlic instead of spring onions, scallions, and leeks.
The mild flavor is ideal for cooking, but many people also eat it raw. If that weren’t enough, there’s less prep work involved to use it. Just wash the stalks in cold water and chop them up.
You can eat the entire plant (green top and bulb). Plus, you don’t have to peel individual cloves. Typically, one stalk of your spring garlic is equivalent to a clove of garlic.
Health Benefits of Spring Garlic
Spring garlic has many of the same health benefits as regular garlic. For one, it is a low-calorie food, so you can use it to flavor dishes without adding a lot of calories and fat. Also, it contains vitamin B6 and manganese, both of which are needed by the body to boost energy.
Many studies have shown that eating garlic can have cardiovascular benefits, too. Since there are sulfur compounds in the garlic, it can make the blood vessels more elastic. That way, they expand to hold more blood so that more nutrients and oxygen can pass through.
You’re going to find that spring garlic has tons of Vitamin C, which can lower cholesterol. Along with that, it lowers blood pressure.
The biggest benefit might be the anti-inflammatory properties of garlic. The allicin (sulfur) can stop free radicals. Plus, it can boost the immune system to help with the flu, common cold, and many other problems.
Back in World War II, antibiotics weren’t a thing yet. Garlic was used on open wounds to prevent infections. However, we don’t recommend that you use garlic instead of an antibiotic – just that it had been used that way in the past.
When to Plant Spring Garlic?
Most people are confused about when to plant spring garlic. The name suggests that it is planted in the spring, but in fact, that is misleading. All types of garlic require a period of cold to stress it and help it decide to grow.
Therefore, you should plant garlic in the fall. It’s going to develop its root system and goes dormant as winter approaches.
Your fall-planted garlic is going to start growing when spring starts. It begins to bulb when the day’s length is about 14 hours long. You want it to have plenty of time before it bulbs to get better foliage.
Alternatively, you can wait until spring to plant the garlic. It doesn’t take very long to grow. You get the green garlic shoots; snip them and use them like chives.
It’s all about when to harvest the garlic to get the spring garlic aroma and feel. Immature bulbs have a mellow flavor when compared to traditional garlic. Plus, you can use the entire plant.
How to Plant Spring Garlic?
You can go to a local garden center or buy garlic bulbs online. Make sure they are labeled as spring-planted. It’s also possible to grow them from seeds.
Sometimes, you may buy the garlic bulbs and notice that they’re sprouting. Go ahead and plant them now and you can enjoy the young, spring garlic in a few weeks.
To plant your spring garlic, you’ve got to prepare the garden bed. The area needs to get about six to eight hours of sunlight each day. Also, the soil needs to be thawed and thoroughly drained.
You can test this by grabbing a handful of soil and making a ball with it. Tap it gently with your fingers. If it crumbles easily, it’s ready to plant the garlic, but if it stays firm, wait a bit longer.
Make sure that you remove any weeds that have popped up. You may also want to add some fertilizer and compost.
The bulbs are sure to be small right now, so they can be planted close together. Consider making the holes roughly 2 to 4 inches apart. They should also be 2 inches deep.
There should be cloves within each bulb. Separate them now and use only the healthiest and biggest ones for planting. You can use the damaged or small cloves to cook with later.
Put the cloves into the holes that you already prepared. The flat side is the root, and it should face downward with the pointy end upward. Cover it with soil, pat it down, and make sure it’s watered well.
You should also add mulch to the garden bed. Use about 2 to 3 inches of organic mulch, such as shredded leaves or straw. This prevents weeds from growing.
If you don’t have room for a garden, you can grow spring garlic in a container. Fill up your pot with some soil. Then, push the cloves into it about 2 to 3 inches apart and 1 inch deep.
Spring Garlic Harvest Time
As you can see, having spring garlic around is highly beneficial. You can plant it almost any time of year. If you only want spring garlic and don’t care about traditional garlic, wait until the spring to plant it.
However, you may want to have regular garlic throughout the year. Remember, spring garlic is only available during the spring season. This varies based on where you live.
It’s best to harvest green garlic when the shoots start to develop. Dig out the entire plant. All the parts are edible.
Consider putting the shoots in your salad or use them as a pizza topping. You can use the bulbs as you might regular garlic. Chop it up and toss it in.
The only caveat here is that spring garlic bulbs can’t be stored. They can stay fresh for a couple of days. However, you shouldn’t put them in the refrigerator.
Doing so is only going to dumb down the flavor, which is already mild enough. If you pick a little too much for that days’ meal, consider wrapping the entire plant and bulb in a damp paper towel. Leave it in a dry, cool, shady place on the counter, and it should stay fresh until the next day.
Harvest only what you require for your meal that evening. This can take some getting used to, as you may not be aware of how to use it. Ultimately, one shoot of spring garlic is the equivalent of a bulb of mature garlic.
It’s possible to freeze the spring garlic. To do that, you should get out a baking sheet and put parchment paper on it. Slice up your spring garlic and put the slices onto the parchment paper in a single layer.
Now, put the entire baking sheet into the freezer. Once it’s frozen, you can put it into containers or Ziplock freezer baggies. It’s best to portion out what you need for each meal first, so you don’t get a big block of frozen spring garlic.
You have a few months to benefit from spring garlic before it is all over. As the garlic stays in the ground, it’s going to mature even more. Once the outer leaves of the plant start to die, it’s time to remove all of the mature garlic from the ground.
Make sure you know how long your spring season lasts. You may also need to do some trial and error to decide how you like your spring garlic to taste. The earlier you start picking it, the milder and sweeter the taste.
Many people prefer to plant it in different pots. One pot is only there for the tenderest shoots that immediately pop up after it starts flourishing.
Then, another container is allowed to wait a little longer to get slightly more mature plants. You may also have a few regular pots, so you can wait until the garlic fully matures.
However, if you follow the rule of thumb of planting them a few inches apart, the bulbs are never going to grow to maturity. Ultimately, the plant is going to start dying. When that happens, you know it’s time to harvest all of the spring garlic and freeze or use it.
Ultimately, once the leaves are full and lush, you can start pulling it. If you wait, the bulb is going to be a bit more pronounced.
Traditional garlic requires a curing process, but spring garlic doesn’t. In fact, it’s designed to be eaten fresh. Just cut into the bulbous end, and it’s going to be juicy and smooth. You can also use the green leaves.
Either cook the leaves like you might an onion or use them raw to top a baked potato or in a salad. When you cook green garlic, it turns buttery and tender. It also takes on the sweetness of a slow-roasted garlic bulb, giving you the taste you want without the wait.
While it might seem a little scary at first to grow spring garlic in your garden, it’s easy to do. Many gardeners prefer to add a few plants here and there wherever there’s a bare spot. However, you can also keep a separate bed just for your spring garlic.
It ultimately depends on how much space you have and what you’re growing. Also, you may want more spring garlic if you prefer it to the mature garlic’s taste. The good news is you’ve got many options.
Now you know how to grow it and harvest it. Consider buying some now and have fresh green garlic in the spring.