If you are searching for a low-maintenance cash crop, consider growing garlic. Brian Fox planted 35 pounds of garlic in his garden 11 years ago. He now plants 700 pounds in October using 15 tons of hay mulch at Salem Mountain Farms in northeastern Pennsylvania. He harvests about 4,000 pounds in the summer. “I can’t imagine stopping,” he said. “It’s certainly a satisfying thing to grow. It’s one of those things we see in the spring before actual leaves start growing on trees.”
He is not super busy when garlic needs attention. He hand-pulls the garlic after his busy planting season in June and early July.
“It’s a natural fit with the things we do on the farm,” he said. “We isolate it from everything else.”
A five- to seven-year rotation prevents fungus or disease buildup. Garlic thrives in loose soil with a pH around 6.5. He grows German White, a hardneck variety also referred to as German Extra-Hardy and German Red. He said it grows well in heavier soil and thrives well in the Northeast.
Producers should ask local farmers about which varieties they have had the most success growing in their climate.
Hardneck varieties thrive in cold areas and keep longer than softneck. Softneck varieties, which are smaller on average, fare well in a wide range of climates, even enduring irregular weather. They grow better where winters are moderate.