Plant Fall Garlic for Next Summer’s Harvest
Garlic is an often overlooked crop in home gardens, despite it’s extreme ease in growing. Plant a Fall crop for a carefree yield next summer.
Garlic is often not sold in gardening centers as other bulbs and vegetables are, and so is often overlooked as a home grown crop. The reason garlic may not be sold alongside bulbs and seedlings is that it doesn’t require any special infant form from which to grow. All that is needed to plant garlic is whole, fresh garlic from the produce aisle.
When to plant
The best time of year to plant garlic is in late Fall (October), but garlic can be planted in the Spring as well. Garlic likes a well draining mix of sandy loam. Nothing is easier to plant or care for than garlic. Simply separate the cloves from the head of garlic, and plant with the root end down, pointed tip up, about 4 inches apart. Garlic planted in the fall should be set a little deeper than a Spring planting, about 4 inches deep, to avoid frost pushing it out of the ground during the winter. For an early Spring planting (late April or early May, depending on the wetness of the soil), plant the garlic cloves with the tips just covered with dirt. Periodic weed control is all that is needed until harvest.
Fall plantings of garlic winter over in the ground. The cloves get a head start in the Spring as they are in the ground and growing before soil can be worked for planting, and the yield is greater for it. Garlic bulbs planted in the Fall are larger and fuller than Spring sets. Both the Fall and Spring planting will mature around the same time (August, generally), although the Fall planting may be ready a little ahead of the Spring crop.
When to pick
Harvest garlic when the green tops turn brown and bend over. A fork, trowel or other tool can be used to gently loosen beneath the roots and make digging a little easier (dried tops break off easily when pulled and can lose the bulb in the ground). Rinse the dirt from the garlic jut after pulling, and lay out in a sunny spot to dry for a day or two. To keep garlic, store in a cool, dry area, dry, mince, or make an attractive braid with the tops for a useful kitchen decoration.