When To Plant Garlic
You can plant from September through mid-January, as long as the soil is not frozen. Fall planting, when the soil is around 60F, will yield the highest quality bulbs; and generally speaking, the later you plant the smaller the heads will be. However, don’t worry too much if you plant it late – you can even plant it in late winter/early spring and still get a nice fall crop.
Types of Garlic
There are two types of garlic: hardneck and softneck.
- Hardneck Garlic tends to have dramatic and distinct flavors, is easy to peel, and has generally bigger cloves. These also produce edible garlic scapes at the beginning of the summer. These are my favorite, but they generally don’t store for as long as softneck garlic. Can be stored 3-6 months.
- Softneck garlic is what you’ll find in most supermarkets – it generally has a milder flavor and smaller cloves. However, it can be braided, and generally stores for much longer. Can be stored for a year or more.
- Elephant Garlic is actually a member of the leek family so it’s not really garlic, but tastes similarly. It has much larger cloves, with a milder taste than garlic, and it keeps well. Elephant Garlic is wonderful baked: slice off the very top of the head so that you can see the tops of the cloves, pour a bit of olive oil on top, and bake until soft and browned. Then you can eat it by scooping the cloves with a spoon, or adding the cloves to other dishes.
The looser the soil, the larger the garlic. It will grow in most soils, but garlic prefers sandy loam (as most plants do). Make sure any compost you use is well aged.
How To Plant & Grow Garlic
Simple, simple, simple, and so low maintenance!
- Separate the cloves (but you can leave the skin on, it doesn’t matter).
- Plant the cloves 1-2″ deep, 4-6″ apart.
- Water, and don’t water again until spring.
- Mulch – in warm winter areas, a light layer of mulch is enough; in colder winter areas, mulch with 8″ or more. We mulch with straw, you can also mulch with leaves.
- Remove the mulch in spring, once danger of frost has passed.
- Water. Continue to water whenever soil is dry.
- When the leaves begin to turn yellow (in the summer), stop watering for 2 weeks.
- Pull up the plant.
- Place the plant in a warm, shady spot to cure for 2-3 weeks (4 weeks for elephant garlic); if you have soft neck garlic, you can braid it and hang it in a dark place with good circulation. (Ideal curing temperature is 70-75F.)
- Store in a cool, dark place (50F is ideal, with less than 60% humidity).
Where To Purchase Garlic Bulbs
You can grow organic garlic bought in a Farmer’s Market or natural foods store – anywhere that has well-stored, organic garlic. Try to find out as much as you can about the garlic when you buy it, so you know how to store it the following year. You can also buy certified disease-free garlic at an organic seed supply like Seeds of Change, Peaceful Valley, or Territorial Seed. Generally these portions are large, so I highly recommend getting a few to try, and sharing them with a friend.
More Garlic Planting Tips? Please Share!