By Frank Wertheim, University of Maine Cooperative Extension Professor, York County, Maine, firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have ever tasted home grown or local farm grown garlic you know it is far superior in flavor to what you can buy in the grocery store. Garlic is an easy crop to grow and planting it in October/early November will ensure you a bountiful harvest this coming July — which will keep you in home grown garlic for the entire year. Get your soil ready and give it a try.
A Word About Garlic: There are basically two types of garlic we use for culinary purposes: Hardneck and Softneck. Both grow well in Maine, but there are differences.
Hardneck: The majority of the garlic grown in the northeast is of the hardneck type, which is so noted for its stiff “neck” or stalk and large cloves. Hardneck produces a scape, which is essentially a flower stock — though usually the flowers abort and produce “bulbils,” which are tiny aerial cloves. These can be saved and planted but will take two years to produce a bulb. If you want to experiment and have a cheap source of increasing your seed stock, give the bulbils a try. Many gardeners cut the scapes off as they develop and use them in stir fries, and some believe that this results in more energy going into the bulb, though research on this is inconclusive. The number of cloves produced from a hardneck bulb are usually few in number (4-8 per bulb), but huge in size. If a large clove is what you are after, you definitely want to grow hardneck varieties. Hardneck varieties don’t store quite as long as softneck, which is why many gardeners plant both types. Good hardneck variety choices for the northeast include German Extra Hardy (a local favorite), Russian Red, Killarney Red, and Montana Giant.
Softneck: Like the name implies, softneck varieties of garlic have a more pliable stalk, produce smaller but numerous cloves per bulb (12-20), do not produce a scape, can be braided for storage, and do store better than the hardneck type. Virtually all of the garlic purchased in grocery stores is of the softneck type. However, it is not recommended to use grocery store bought bulbs for planting as the varieties come from California and China and are not adapted to Maine growing conditions. Also, grocery store garlic may be treated with a sprout inhibitor to lengthen storage life. Good softneck varieties for the northeast include New York White (the local favorite), Artichoke, and Silverskin.
Planting stock: Good sources locally are Fedco-Seeds and Johnny’s Selected Seed. Another alternative for getting a more economical source of garlic for planting is to purchase it from a local farmers market or farm stand. Locally grown garlic will be of the type hardy for this area and you can ask the farmer which varieties they have, and they won’t be treated with a sprout inhibitor
Soil Preparation: Garlic is best grown in a well drained soil as it won’t tolerate wet feet, and prefers soils high in organic matter. A raised bed would be an ideal location for growing garlic. Be sure and amend the soil with well rotted manure or, preferably, a quality compost. If possible spread 1/2 – 1 inch of compost over the entire planting area and work it into the first few inches of soil. As with most garden crops, garlic grows best when the soil pH is between 6 and 7. If you are not sure what your soil pH is, contact your local University of Maine Cooperative Extension county office for a soil test. There is still time to get a soil test done and work in the proper amount of lime if needed as you prepare the planting bed. If you amend the soil with manure or compost before planting no further fertilizer is needed until spring.
Information in this website is provided purely for educational purposes. No responsibility is assumed for any problems associated with the use of products or services mentioned in this website. No endorsement of products or companies is intended, nor is criticism of unnamed products or companies implied.
Image Description: garlic; photo by Edwin Remsberg
Garlic is a popular home garden crop in Maine, but little research-based information is available about optimal planting and harvest times. That’s why University of Maine Cooperative Extension launched a participatory research initiative called the Maine Garlic Project.
For $5, growers receive a garlic bulb, a data collection form and a discount on a soil sample test. Data ranging from planting, mulching and harvest dates to bulb size, appearance and flavor will be compiled.
The Maine Garlic Project, led by Extension staff members Steve Johnson and Dave Fuller, also is designed to raise awareness of the bulbous herb.
Among Johnson’s favorite facts about garlic:
Image Description: garlic; photo by Edwin Remsberg, USDA
By Hannah Todd, Horticulture Aide, Somerset and Piscataquis Counties, email@example.com
The Maine Garlic Project: A Participatory Research Project
By Steven B. Johnson, Ph.D., Extension Crop Specialist, firstname.lastname@example.org and David Fuller, Extension Agricultural Professional, email@example.com
Garlic is grown in every county in Maine. Much of the management information used to produce garlic ranges from myths to reality has not been generated under Maine conditions. Despite this, respectable garlic crops are produced. Better organization and quality of production data can only improve garlic.
The Maine Garlic Project is a participatory research program with gardeners and market farmers in Maine. Gardeners and market farmers will be contributing to the overall knowledge of garlic and garlic production in Maine. Specifically, goals of the Maine Garlic Project include development of optimal planting and harvest times for different areas of the state. A benefit would also be cataloging fertility used to produce the crop, raising the awareness of home-produced food. The project may add a new crop to many home gardens. Participants will buy into the program for a $5 cost-recovery fee where they will receive a garlic bulb in the mail along with planting instructions and data collection information. Data collected will be the date and location where the garlic is planted (county and town), soil test number (from the Maine Soil Test Report), any added fertility, the variety of garlic, mulching date, emergence date, maturity date, harvest date, bulb measurements, and ratings on bulb appearance and flavor. Those wishing to participate with their own garlic stock are welcome to supply information. From collected data, it is hoped that the goal of optimal planting and harvest times for different areas of the state could be developed.
Garlic has been cultivated for thousands of years and is widely used in many cultures. Hardneck garlic varieties (Allium sativum var. ophioscorodon) produce a flower stalk, technically, a scape, and are difficult to braid.
Soils and Fertility
Garlic will grow in almost any well-drained, friable soil, preferably with good organic matter content and a loose growing bed. Ideal pH is between 6 and 7. Garlic is a heavy feeder, requiring more than 100 pounds per acre of N P and K. This is about five tablespoons of 10-10-10 for six cloves. Incorporate the fertilizer before planting. Additional N in the spring could be added as shoots emerge and again about two to three weeks later. Add about a quarter of the preplanting rate at each spring fertilizing.
Separate individual cloves from the bulb up to two days before planting. Cloves separated for longer than two days tend to dry out. Plant the cloves with the pointed side up so the point is covered with two to four inches of soil. Planting dates range from end of September to the second week of October, from north to south, or about two weeks after the first hard freeze. Plant the cloves in a row 6 inches apart and 8 inch spacing between rows.
About four weeks after planting, cover garlic row with a two-inch to four-inch layer of mulch. Remove the mulch after the threat of hard freezes is over.
Scapes (flower stalks with small aerial bulbels) may be removed as they straighten out, perhaps as soon as they come out.
Harvesting and Curing
Harvest dates range from late June to early August, from south to north. Harvest when half or slightly more than half of the leaves remain green. The bulbs should fully be developed and well formed with a tight outer skin. Dig the garlic with a garden fork with the shoots and roots still attached. Dry the harvested plants in a dark and well-ventilated area. After about three to four weeks of curing, the shoots and roots should have dried down. Cut the tops to about one-half to one inch above the main bulb and trim the roots close to the base of the bulb.
Store the harvested garlic in the dark at 32° to 40°F with 60% to 70% relative humidity. Alternately, garlic can be stored at room temperature with 60% to 70% relative humidity. Temperatures between 42° and 52° F will cause sprouting; and humidity greater than 70% tends to promote rooting.
Recognizing and Managing Invasive Plants: Sweet Autumn Olive
By Dr. Lois Berg Stack, Extension Specialist, Ornamental Horticulture; Dr. Mary Rumpho, Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Univ. of Maine; and Dr. Donglin Zhang, Associate Professor of Horticulture, University of Maine. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sweet autumn olive (Elaeagnus umbellata) has long been planted by homeowners and land managers as an ornamental shrub, a hedgerow plant, and a provider of food and cover for birds. Unfortunately, over the years, it has become a highly invasive plant in New England and other regions of the United States.
What does it look like?
Sweet autumn olive is quite distinct, particularly when it displays its fragrant flowers in June, or its colorful fruits in August-October. With a little practice, you can learn to recognize it easily even as a young seedling.
Sweet autumn olive is a twiggy shrub that reaches 12-15′ in height and width. Its leaves are bright green on top and silver-green below, 1-3 inches long, oval with a blunt or pointed tip, and they alternate along the stem. Their edges are often slightly wavy. If you look at the leaves with a hand lens, you’ll see an unusual texture: the lower leaf surfaces are covered with silvery-white scales. Few plants have this characteristic. The stems are slender and often spiny.
The shrubs reach maturity in as little as three years, at which time they produce 1/2-inch long, funnel-shaped flowers in June; these are pale yellow and highly fragrant. The fruits that develop from the flowers are 1/4″ – 1/3″ in diameter, slightly longer than broad, and juicy. If you look closely at the fruits, you’ll see another unique identifying trait: the fruits are covered with scales that look like gold-silver flecks.
How and where does sweet autumn olive invade new sites?
Birds eat sweet autumn olive fruits and distribute the seeds over long distances. Mature plants produce more than 60,000 seeds each and germination rates exceed 50%. The plants fix nitrogen, allowing them to survive in very infertile soils. They also tolerate salt, drought, and very acid soils. These facts, taken all together, explain why sweet autumn olive readily colonizes roadsides, abandoned fields, utility rights-of-way, woodland edges, and disturbed soils in landscapes.
How can I control sweet autumn olive?
No single method controls this plant. By combining the following methods, you can manage it:
If I remove this plant from my landscape, what can I plant in its place?
Most people who plant sweet autumn olive value it for its rapid growth, fragrant flowers, and fruits that feed birds. Some alternatives that are native to Maine include
Where can I find more information?
Check our fact sheet Autumn Olive / Russian Olive, Bulletin #2525.
Protecting Yourself from Ticks
By Kathy Murray, Ph.D. Entomologist, Maine Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources, email@example.com
Ticks and tick-borne diseases such as Lyme disease are much in the news. With good reason — the incidence of Lyme disease and its vector, the deer tick, also called the black-legged tick, have been increasing annually, with record numbers in 2010. There are about a dozen additional tick species in the state. Ticks aren’t enough to keep Mainers indoors but you should take steps to protect yourself, your family and your pets. Here’s how.
Avoid Tick Habitat
Wooded areas with shrubby undergrowth, grassy edges adjacent to woods, and open grassy areas are favorite tick habitats. Walk in the center of wooded paths and avoid vegetation along path edges or avoid tick-infested areas when possible. Keep pets out of tick-infested areas too.
Cover Up Outdoors
Create a Tick-Safe Zone Around Your Home
Tick numbers can be reduced by making simple landscape changes to your property.
Removal of Ticks
For More Information:
Image Description: Squash Bug
Image Description: garlic
Image Description: sweet-autumn-olive
Image Description: ticks