Q: What is the best way to grow and dry garlic? I live in Minnesota, is there a list of herbs that I can grow, harvest and dry for my personal use?
—Sent via e-mail from J. Werlinger
A: Growing garlic is fairly easy. However, harsh Minnesota weather isn’t exactly the ideal growing climate for garlic.
Photo by graibeard/Courtesy of Flickr
Latin name: Allium sativum L.
Soil condition: Garlic thrives in well-drained soil with a pH level between 4.5 and 8.3. If you are not sure if the soil to too acidic or too basic, test the soil by purchasing a pH test strip from your local garden store. Garlic is not drought tolerant and does not do well in extremely wet soil.
Temperature: Garlic will typically germinated in 60 to 80 degree weather.
Maintenance: Keep an eye out for these pests: Onion thrips, armyworms and onion maggots. Although pests are not a big issue with garlic, it is something to keep in the back of your mind. If you are planning on growing garlic, make sure you stay on top of weeds, as garlic does not fare well against them.
For additional reading on growing garlic in Minnesota, visit The University of Minnesota: Extension.
Regardless of which method you choose to dry garlic, the most important component is good air circulation. You will want to store your drying garlic in a dark and cool location.
Hanging garlic: This is the method I recommend as it efficiently dries the garlic and minimal space is required. Tie 7-12 garlic stalks together to forms a bundle. Check on the garlic maybe once a month. The type of garlic will depend on the drying time, however, the process will take anywhere from 6 to 8 months.
For additional reading on drying herbs, read DIY: Drying Fresh Herbs.
Growing Herbs in Minnesota
The USDA Hardiness Zones notes that Minnesota's average minimum winter temperatures range from -20 to -45 degrees. That being said, growing herbs indoors throughout the winter months is a great option for colder climates.
Growing Herbs Indoors
Growing herbs indoors is a great way to enjoy summer flavors during the cold winter months. These herbs do fairly well indoors: basil, bay, cilantro, chives, dill, ginger, lemon verbena, marjoram, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage and thyme. Keep in mind each herb’s growing requirements (watering, sunlight, fertilizer, etc.).
For additional reading on this subject, read long time herb gardener Betsy Strauch's article Wintering Herbs Indoors. If you are interested in creating a winter herb drying display basket, read Rosemary McCreary's An Indoor Visual Feast.
Do you live in a cold climate-growing zone? What herbs do you have success with and which do you bring indoors during the winter months? Drop me a comment or e-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.