Plant your garlic now!
I can’t think of an easier crop to plant than garlic. It’s the perfect plant-it-and-forget-it veggie (does garlic count as a veggie?)! And fall is the perfect time to get your garlic in the ground.
Where to get cloves:
Different varieties of garlic have specific soil preferences; some will grow better in your yard than others. The good news is that, according to Edward C. Smith, author of The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible, garlic will adapt to the growing conditions of your garden! So begin your first planting of garlic with cloves purchased from local sources which are already adapted to local temperatures or buy from a trusted seed catalog, such as Johnny’s Selected Seeds.
I bought mine from Garden Dreams. The secret is that once you start growing garlic at home you will never have to buy seed cloves again. Just choose the largest bulbs, separate the cloves and plant. Yes, it’s amazing, but one small garlic clove will grow into a large garlic bulb filled with many cloves! Planting 100 cloves will get you 100 garlic bulbs! Each year you can put aside a portion or your garlic harvest and grow your own garlic which will be more and more adapted to your garden soil.
Where to plant:
When you choose a location to plant your garlic, remember that garlic grows slowly and will not be ready for harvest until about July. So don’t make plans to replant in that area until after your garlic is harvested. In addition, Eliot Coleman, author of Four-Season Harvest, recommends planting garlic in a plot where no cabbage family members grew the year before. Studies have shown decreased bulb growth when garlic follows cabbage in a crop rotation.
If you do not have room for an entire bed of garlic you can also plant cloves in spaces throughout your garden. Garlic is a great companion plant to celery and onions!
How to plant:
Choose large bulbs, break them apart and select the largest cloves. These will grow better bulbs than the thin cloves you find at the center of the bulb. You can choose to remove the skins or leave them off. I recently planted both skinned and un-skinned cloves and they all shot up green foliage and seem to be growing well!
You don’t need much space to plant garlic; a lot of garlic can grow in a small space. Leave five to eight inches between each clove. Plant your garlic by pushing a clove into the soil blunt-end first, so that the pointy tip is facing up. Garlic should only be planted two to three inches deep. At this time, you want the garlic to establish good root growth, leaf growth is not as important. In fact, any leaves that do develop will probably die back through the winter months. That’s ok; garlic is very hardy and new leaves will shoot up in the spring.
Finish with Mulch:
After your garlic has sprouted, cover the garden bed with straw or leaves to protect the soil over the winter. This mulch should be removed in the spring, at which time it is best to add a top dressing of compost to the growing garlic. Keep your garlic well weeded to ensure maximum production!