When I first began to garden, experienced gardeners consistently suggested to start with something easy to grow. In California where growing is generally easy, I often did not heed this advice, growing whatever suited my fancy. Here in Park City where I am consistently told "you can't grow anything" I paid attention. At 6,800 feet, with freezing winters, daily winds, warm dry summers, and abundant hungry deer and elk, garlic reportedly offers the greatest chance for success with edibles.
The property we moved onto last summer had two 25' x 7' raised beds. They were full of weeds and hard packed soil with visible pellets of chemical fertilizers. I had it removed and replaced with organic soil and compost then covered it with straw. By the time this project was completed it was too late to plant - "winter is coming." Then I remembered what my Roger friend (gardener extrodinaire) taught me. Garlic is best planted at Halloween -easy to remember as it will keep you safe from any lurking vampires. Lucky me! Not only was I in time but garlic was the one crop offering a chance for success!
Off to the farmers market in Salt Lake City. I purchased to kinds of hard neck garlic, Red German and Susandelafield, from a valley farmer and some soft neck garlic at stand operated by Hell's Backbone Grill and Farm in Boulder, UT. I didn't plant much, just enough to cover about 3 feet at one end of a raised bed. My confidence was waning with all the discouraging feedback. The farmers at the market suggested I wait until Veterans Day to plant, apparently Halloween is a bit early in this climate.
I planted and there sat the garlic all winter under the straw. I was so excited when it actually peaked out of the ground in April. It rained off and on all spring so I didn't begin to water until June. By the end the hardback garlic had produced curly scapes - the flower stalk. I broke them off to allow the plant to put energy into the bulbs I hoped were underground. i used the scapes just like garlic in cooking, made some garlic scape pesto, charred them on the grill and make 3 jars of pickled scapes. This week I harvested the garlic, braided the soft neck garlic and hung both types to cure in my husbands workshop.