Gardening for Health

Get Onions and Garlic Planted Now

By Maria Price

I seem to use green onions and garlic in almost everything I cook. Having a perennial source of green onions in the garden is wonderful for anybody that likes to cook.

Egyptian walking onions are perfect to plant in the garden in October. They are rather difficult to find so you might find them at a mail order nursery or here at Beaver Creek Cottage Garden. Plant them in your garden now so that you can enjoy picking green onions from your garden this winter and year-round.

Egyptian walking onions are grown from bulbils, small bulbs that are produced at the end of the stems in early summer. These perennial onions are used in permaculture designs. The stems become large and produce a ring of about a dozen bulbils. They fall to the ground and root into a new plant. They like growing in organic rich soil. When the bulbils form, pull them apart and plant one-half inch deep about one foot apart. They’re called walking onions as they would naturally root a distance away from the original plant.

This is also the time to plant garlic—make sure to use seed garlic. Garlic is a heavy feeder and likes a rich organic, well-drained soil; add compost and a slow-release nitrogen fertilizer like alfalfa meal. In the spring, side dress with a fast release source of nitrogen, such as fish emulsion, when the shoots are 6 inches tall. The goal is to get good root growth but no top growth before winter.

Plant individual cloves approximately 6 inches apart in rows 24 inches apart or 3 to 4 rows per bed with 6-inch spacing, within and between rows. Push the clove root end down about 2 to 3 inches into the soil. Cover with mulch, straw or leaves.

In spring, consistent soil moisture is important, especially during the bulbing period. Reduce irrigation when garlic is nearing maturity in midsummer. Keep them weeded as weed pressure can reduce bulbs size by up to 30 percent. Stiff neck garlic forms flower stalks called scapes, which are long curled stalks. Cut the scapes off when they began to curl. This directs energy toward the bulb. If the scape is not removed, bulb-size will be compromised.

The scapes are edible and excellent in pesto or any dish that calls for garlic. In early July, the foliage begins to die back. As soon as the tops have died back, you can harvest your crop.