Garlic is one of the most useful crops you can grow in your garden!
Along with the incredible taste and aroma it adds to so many recipes in the kitchen – it can also be used as a main ingredient in all types of all-natural homemade bug repellents for the garden. See : How To Battle Pests Naturally With Garlic
Adding to the allure – garlic is one of the easiest crops to plant, maintain and harvest – and stores wonderfully for using through the long winter months.
Although garlic can be planted in the spring (especially soft-neck varieties in the warmer climates of the South) – the best time to plant hardneck garlic here in the Midwest and the Northern states is in the fall.
We will take you step by step below through our planting process – but you can also check out our video at the bottom of the post to see more.
When To Plant:
The key is to plant it late enough so that the harsh summer heat has passed – and early enough that is has enough time to come up through the surface and prepare to settle in for the long winter ahead!
For us here in the Midwest and for most of the Northern states – the best time to plant garlic is in mid to late September.
Prepping The Soil…
Like most vegetables, garlic will grow best in rich, loose, and fertile soil. Working in generous amounts of compost prior to planting is a great way to ensure a great start for your crop – especially if your soil tends to lean towards the clayish side.
Each single clove of a garlic bulb is an individual “seed” that will grow into a full bulb. We select the largest of the bulbs grown each year to use as our seed cloves for the coming year – knowing that the larger “seeds” tend to grow larger bulbs.
To prepare the cloves for planting – take your bulbs and separate each clove carefully – trying to keep as much of the papery skin in tact. The skin serves as a protectant for the garlic as it sits in the soil waiting to sprout.
Some prefer to soak their cloves a day or two before planting in a quart jar filled with water and a teaspoon of baking soda. It is said to help the garlic sprout and help prevent ground rot. We have never used the procedure and our garlic has always performed well without it.
Garlic can be mass planted in raised beds or raised rows – we plant 3 rows in a single 18 to 20″ wide strip – leaving about 4″ inches between each planted row in the bed.
Begin by digging a trench about 3 to 4 inches deep. Fill in the trench without about an inch of compost, and then plant each bulb down into the compost layer. When planting – make sure to keep the pointy end of each garlic clove up – and the flat end down. Then simply cover up with the remaining soil, and cover with a light layer of shredded leaves or straw to keep the soil mulched and help with weed control.
Water your crop in – and be sure to keep the soil watered every 3 to 4 days until it sprouts.
You should see shoots coming through the ground within 2 to 4 weeks. As winter approaches, the garlic will go dormant– at this point we add an additional two to three-inch layer of straw or shredded leaf mulch to help insulate the crop.
When Spring arrives – your crop will come back to life and continue its growth. Keep your garlic weeded and mulched through the spring – the less it has to compete for nutrients – the larger your resulting cloves and harvest will be!
The crop will be ready to harvest whenever the tops brown off – which is usually in late June or the first few weeks of July.
Happy Garlic Growing! – Jim and Mary