Garlic continues to grow in popularity

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Nothing seems to be so prominent in cooking these days than garlic. If you ever watch the Food Network hardly is there ever a savory recipe that doesn’t involve this tasty bulb.
Garlic originated in Central Asia and has since spread to all parts of the world as flavoring and medicine. The ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Indians and Chinese all have writings referencing garlic. The ancient Indians used garlic for medical reasons one of them being as an aphrodisiac and even forbid Monks, adolescents, and widows from eating eat because it was such a stimulant. The Chinese even hung garlic over doors thinking it would stop the spread of disease such as small pox.
In modern times (now) garlic is grown for the flavorful bulbs that grow underground, but the tops can be used like green onions. Garlic flowers are sterile and do not produce seed. It is propagated by the individual sections of the bulb called cloves.
Fall is a good time to plant garlic. However, you can also plant in the early spring. Most gardeners will find it easier to plant in the fall since the soil is usually drier. It prefers full sun and a well-drained soil. Avoid sights with standing water anytime during the year. It’s not a good idea to plant garlic from a grocery store. The storage temperature for store bought garlic can affect the future bulbing of the cloves. Garlic that has been stored at 40 degrees is idea so it is best to purchase garlic from a reliable garden center or mail-order company.
A light application of fertilizer is adequate in the late fall or early spring. Usually something like one-half pound of 10-10-10 per 100 square foot of row is adequate for most soils. Work the fertilizer into the first 4-5 inches of soil.  
As far as harvesting garlic dig it when the tops turn brown and dry. Dig the bulbs and tie the tops together. Hang the bulbs in a cool dry place. They should keep for a long time, usually even into the next year. Plant a few back after digging for next year’s crop. The bulbs will consist of several cloves of which can be broken apart and planted to make new bulbs next year. Garlic is like any other plant or vegetable, the more you propagate your own the easier it is to have increased disease instance. It is a good idea to buy new ever once in a while and rotate your garlic bed yearly.
If you would like any more information about growing garlic call the Washington County Extension Office at 859-336-7741. You can also call me for an application for the Master Gardener program scheduled to begin Monday, Sept. 8.