When it comes to planting garlic in the fall, a few simple tips go a long way toward creating a great harvest early next summer!
Garlic is one of our most beloved crops to grow. In fact, we grew it in our very first garden some 9 years ago, and have never missed a harvest since!
And we need to grow a lot, because we use it in just about everything!
From salsa and pasta sauce, to homemade garlic bread and countless other dishes, our homegrown garlic is a key ingredient in something we consume nearly every day.
We even use it to help battle pests naturally outside as well. Homemade hot pepper & garlic spray is our go-to spray when we need to protect plants from devouring pests. (See: How To Make Homemade Hot Pepper / Garlic Spray)
So what does it take to grow a great crop of garlic?
Actually, that may be the best part of all. Garlic is one of the easiest crops to plant and grow in the garden. It naturally repels most pests, and requires little maintenance.
Here is a look at how to plant your own great crop this fall, including a short video tutorial at the end as well.
Planting Garlic – The Secrets To Growing A Great Crop
The best time to plant hardneck garlic in the Midwest and Northern states is in the early fall. Here in Ohio, we always plant our crop within the first few weeks of September.
That allows a month or two of cool weather growth for it to become established. It then goes dormant for the winter, and comes back to life in the spring.
It is usually ready for harvest by late June or the first week of July.
Preparing The Garlic Seed For Planting – Soaking The Seed.
Each single clove of a garlic bulb is an individual seed. Once planted, it will then grow into a full bulb.
We select the largest of our bulbs that we harvest in June to become our “seed” in the fall. Quite simply, the larger the clove, the bigger the mature bulbs will be when you harvest. Product Link : Hardneck Garlic Seed
To prepare the cloves for planting, separate each clove carefully. Always be sure to keep as much of the papery skin in tact as possible.
The skin serves as a protective layer for the garlic, and keeps it from rotting until it sprouts.
A Little Secret – Pre-Soaking The Bulbs
To help promote sprouting and health, soak your bulbs a few days before planting. Fill a quart jar with water and add in a teaspoon of baking soda. Stir and then drop in the cloves to let them soak.
This soaking helps the garlic sprout and also helps prevent ground rot.
Preparing The Soil
Like most vegetables, garlic grows best in fertile, loose soil. Prior to planting, work in generous amounts of compost to help amend the soil.
Compost is the perfect partner for growing garlic. Not only will it help energize the soil with nutrients, it also helps to loosen the dirt to allow for good bulb growth.
How To Plant Garlic
Garlic can be planted in traditional rows, raised beds or raised rows. The key is spacing. Bulbs should be spaced 4″ apart within rows and 4″ between rows.
Begin by digging a trench 3 to 4 inches deep.
Fill the bottom of the trench with an inch or so of compost. As you plant, push each bulb gently down into the compost layer.
We then add in a teaspoon of worm castings around every bulb as we plant. It provide a great source of ready-to-use nutrients for the bulb.
Ever since doing this a few years back, our bulbs have been simply amazing! It really is a great little secret to better bulb production. Product Link : Worm Castings
When planting garlic, make sure to keep the pointy end of each garlic clove up, and the flat end down. The point tip is the sprouting end, and will allow for quick sprouting through the soil.
Next. cover up with the cloves with remaining soil and water the crop well to promote quick growth.
Mulching For Weed Control & Winter Protection
We place a light 1″ covering of straw over our crop right after it is planted. This protects the ground from weeds seeds blowing in, but still allows the garlic to sprout.
Once the crop has sprouted, we then add a few inches of additional straw mulch to help protect the crop through winter. You can also use shredded leaves as well.
Keep the crop watered if conditions become overly dry.
The only additional secret here is to keep the crop weeded. Weeds compete for nutrients, and a weedy patch will keep yields lower and smaller.
As spring arrives, the garlic crop will come out of dormancy and continue to grow.
We usually add a bit more mulch to suppress weeds in the early spring. But other than that, the only maintenance required before harvest is to keep the weeds out.
How We Plant Our Garlic:
The tops of the crop will begin to brown off in early June. As soon as two-thirds of the garlic has browned off, the crop is ready to harvest and cure.
For more on that, see : How To Store & Cure Garlic
Here is to planting and growing your own amazing crop of garlic this fall. Happy Gardening! Jim and Mary.
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