RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—Fall is the best time to plant plump garlic cloves in your garden so they can put out a generous tuft of roots over the winter for maximum harvests next summer. But if you don’t have a garden—or just can’t wait—you can grow garlic plants any time of the year in an indoor garden on a sunny windowsill, and harvest the greens all winter long.
Garlic is traditionally harvested in midsummer, and the cloves store well (in a cool, dark location) for up to six months. But if you're buying garlic out of season, like in midwinter, the cloves were most likely shipped all the way from China, their transport spewing unnecessary greenhouse gases all the way, and the cloves sprayed with chemicals to keep them from sprouting. Growing garlic plants indoors allows you to harvest your own local garlic greens instead. The greens have a fresh, sprightly flavor, sort of like scallions with a strong garlic overtone; it's a different, fresh flavor that garlic cloves can't match. Here's how to do it:
Start with the castoffs. You can often get a good price on small or shattered garlic bulbs (bulbs that either are totally pulled apart or are just starting to burst because they were left in the field a bit too long) at the farmer's market this time of year, so it's a great time to stock up now for delicious winter eating. Small cloves are fussy to peel but are perfect for planting, as no peeling is required. Store your stash at cool room temperature or in the crisper drawer of the fridge. Or just pick up a bulb or two of organic garlic at the store as needed. Don't use the leftover garlic in your cabinet that's dried up; it's dead and only good for your next batch of soup stock.
Published on: September 23, 2009