Fall is the perfect time for planting a delicious crop of garlic and onions in your garden! And with just a little work now, you’ll be rewarded with a bountiful harvest early next summer.
Although both garlic and onions can be planted and grown as traditional spring crops, an early Autumn planting has several advantages.
For one, fall planting allows each plant to grow a larger, more robust bulb come harvest time. But even better, overwintering these two crops also helps to develop better flavor in the bulbs – as if they both weren’t already tasty enough!
And let’s face it, you can never have enough delicious homegrown garlic or onions on hand. In fact, we use at least one or both everyday, whether it’s for fresh-made dishes, or as ingredients in tried and true recipes like our homemade garlic pasta sauce or overnight garlic pickles.
And that is exactly why planting our fall crop is important! Here is a look at how we plant both onions and garlic, along with a few secrets we have learned along the way to growing a successful crop.
3 Big Secrets For Planting Fall Garlic & Onions
#1 Plant The Right Way – At The Right Time!
When planting a fall crop of garlic and onions, it’s important to get your bulbs in at just the right time. For both, that means planting to allow 6 to 8 weeks of growth before the cold of winter sets in and they go dormant.
That growing time is critical for both crops, as it allows them to set their roots for strong growth in the spring.
Here on our little Ohio farm, we usually plant during the first week of September. But wherever you live, simply count back 6 to 8 weeks from when your fall frost / freeze dates occur, and plant accordingly.
Great Soil = A Great Crop
For maximum growth, it is critical for both crops to have fertile, well draining soil. It not only allows bulbs to grow larger, but keeps them from rotting in the sometimes overly wet conditions of late fall and early spring.
Before planting fall garlic or onions, add in generous amounts of compost to the bottom of each planting furrow. The compost will provide both the nutrients and improved drainage the bulbs need to thrive.
To accomplish this, we first dig our furrow, and then add about an inch of compost into the bottom of the trench. Then we plant the bulbs down into the layer of compost. This allows the seed to be surrounded by life-giving nutrients as it sprouts and grows.
Both garlic and onions can be planted in rows, but they can be grouped closer than you might think no matter how you plant. In our 18″ wide raised rows, we plant both crops 3-wide down each row, with 4″ spacing between bulbs.
This closeness not only helps conserve space, but also helps to keep weeding and maintenance to a minimum. In a single 20′ long bed, we can grow close to 80 heads of garlic or onions.
As for the depth of planting, we plant our garlic bulbs 3″ deep, while the onions go in at 2 inches. And remember when planting – always plant with the pointy tip of the bulb facing up. Product Links : Chesnook Red Garlic Bulbs Yellow Onion Sets
#2 Soak Before Planting – How To Plant Fall Garlic & Onions
One of the best things you can do to get your onion and garlic crops off to a great start is to soak them before planting.
Soaking allows the bulbs to absorb moisture before heading into the ground. And without moisture, bulbs simply won’t sprout.
To soak, simply fill up a 5 gallon bucket of water the night before planting and dump the bulbs in. Be sure to use water that is not treated as it can actually harm the bulbs.
The simple task of soaking bulbs can speed up sprout times by a week or more!
#3 Mulch Those Crops – How To Plant Fall Garlic & Onions
And perhaps the biggest secret of all for a great crop is to mulch that crop! Not only does it help protect the crop through winter, it also keeps competing weeds at bay.
After planting, place a thin 1″ mulching of straw on top of your crop. Once crops have emerged, apply an additional 3 to 5 inches of mulch before winter sets in.
This will help to protect each of the crops from the harsh winter temperatures and winds. Once spring arrives, simply add a bit of fresh mulch to top of the rows, and get ready for a great early summer harvest!
Here is to planting a beautiful crop of garlic and onions this fall! Happy Gardening, Jim and Mary.
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