Thursday, October 10, 2013

Garlic and Strawberries

You might wonder what these two have in common. In fact, nothing that I can see, except that I have spent the day working with both. First, I spent the morning planting garlic and then, in the afternoon, I made a new strawberry bed. Garlic is very easy to grow, so it is a mystery that, in winter, most of the garlic in stores comes from China. Besides, the garlic you grow yourself seems to keep much longer than the one you buy (perhaps because the one you buy is already relatively old when you get it).

Fresh Garlic Bulbs

I plant garlic in October and cover the bed with leaf cover which acts as a mulch in the summer and eventually breaks down to fertilize the bed. With the autumn rains, it sprouts very quickly and by the time the snow comes, the garlic plants are already growing well, looking like green onions. Being eventually covered with snow does not seem to affect them in the least. They just wait for spring. I wonder if they don't even make more roots under the snow cover.

Garlic Cloves Ready to be Pushed-in
Garlic Bed Covered with Leaves

I have two kinds, Transylvanian and Siberian. You cannot distinguish them by looking at the plant nor by looking at the blubs. However, when you split the bulb open, the cloves of Transylvania are white, whereas the cloves of Siberian are darker. Both varieties do well in cold climate.

Siberian above and Transylvanian below

They are usually ripe in mid-summer. I then pull them up, and tie them in bunches which I dry in a shaded area. Once they are dried, I cut the stems off and store the bulbs for the rest of the year.

Garlic Drying

I grow about twice as much as we can use, as I give some away. Some garden produce you might offer to friends (i.e. zucchinis) are not always welcome. However, I find that garlic is always very popular. No doubt because it keeps well for a long time, especially the one you grow yourself, as I said above.

As for strawberries, after the first and most important crop in early summer, the plants start to produce a lot of runners. I put pots filled with soil among the strawberry plants and sink in the runners. These develop into independent plants in the pot over the summer.

Strawberry Runners Growing in Pots
Well-rooted Strawberry Plants Grown in Pot

By this time of the year, the runners-in-pots have good root systems, and I plant them in a new bed. Once they are planted, I water them well and cover the space between the plants with leaves, as I did for the garlic. I keep the old bed one more year, but I will take it apart after it has finished producing next summer, keeping only the young plants at the end of new runners.

New Strawberry Bed


  1. My planted garlic didn't bloody grow this year

  2. Many of my plants produced little cloves mid-way up the stems. It is the first time they do that.

  3. You're giving me more garden ideas than I have grand kids to manage.

  4. The question is, which garlic is better, Transylvanian or Siberian, for repelling vampires? I would think the former! I've never tried growing garlic, but your post is inspiring. Thanks.

  5. Our strawberries hardly produced any runners this year. You seem to refresh your bed very frequently. I usually leave mine about three years.

    1. I was not very clear in my description, the bed I will take apart next summer is the one the plants from runners I put in this year came from. I put in new plants each year but take apart old beds every 3 or 4 year.

  6. If I were your neighbor I would be knocking at your door for the excess garlic, and I wouldn't say no to the strawberries either. How late can you plant garlic, it is something I have thought about often, but have never taken action.

    1. Well, as you might guess, I have yet to give away a single strawberry. As for garlic, I think you can even plant it in spring. It is very accommodating. When you plant it in the fall, it ripens earlier the next summer. Winter seems to have no effect on it but I expect you need a winter hardy variety.

  7. Thanks for the garlic reminder. My little purple bulbs (Siberian, then?) stay pretty small, but they're potent enough for our liking. Time to clear out the gladiolus and plant the garlic.
    Your flowerpot trick with the strawberry runners is nifty! That's what I would call "stolon kisses".

  8. I need to get my garlic in! Usually that's happening while it's snowing in early November... :)


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