Wednesday, June 24, 2009


The other day, as Dave and I were cooking, we needed some garlic. I rooted around in the refrigerator and found a head that seemed OK to me -- a bit shrunken, perhaps, with a pale green shoot coming out the top. Dave, however, took one look at it with his chef's eye and pronounced it “done.” I hate to throw anything away, so Dave suggested I plant it.

I’ve never planted old garlic before. I took the first step by setting the bulb outside on my windowsill. The weather has been so damp that the garlic wasn’t in any danger of drying out. In fact, if anything, it started growing more vigorously. The pale green shoot became dark green.

I meant to buy a flowerpot, but everyday distractions kept me from going to the hardware store. I didn’t even have a stray tin can. So finally, yesterday morning, I took it downstairs and planted it in the backyard, in a partly sunny spot. I’m curious to see what a garlic plant looks like. Will it bloom purple, I wonder, the way ornamental garlic blooms?

I also wonder how our urban wildlife will react. (Do rats and possums eat garlic?)

(Photo: Garlic street art, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Feb. 2008)


  1. funny, I photographed wild garlic in bloom just a few days ago. The answer is: yes, it will bloom exactly the same as the ornamental kind, but the flowers will be smaller (if you look at the third pic on the June 17 posting of Ici Graulhet, you'll see what you can expect.)

    I doubt if you'll have any problems with possum and such. I can tell you cats and dogs give the stuff a wide, wide berth.

    cheers from Graulhet.

  2. My first introduction to seeing garlic growing was in the garden adjacent to our house on the Amalfi Coast last summer. The garlic was sweet and delicious and so different from those buds in the grocery store that have obviously been out of the ground for a long time.

    Good luck with your recycled garlic. With any luck you will drive away the mosquitoes and fail to attract those predators you mentioned!

  3. as you know garlic is very good for overall health. so let's hope the rats leave your crop alone, from what I hear you already have super rats in nyc!

  4. Living in the land of Alice Waters but also a spendthrift with gourmet tastes, this dilemma sounds familiar. I'll be interested to see how the garlic fares. Do you get possums in Manhattan too? I was really freaked the first time I saw raccoons and then later possums in my garden, something I thought I'd never see in SF. I recall having a couple of possums in Park Slope, but I thought of that as living "in the burbs" after a couple of years in Manhattan.