Do you love the scent of fresh roasted garlic in your penne alfredo?
Fortunately, garlic it’s reasonably easy to grow this herbaceous bulb in your garden. Plant it in the fall, and then harvest during the mid-summer of the following year.
Instead of buying your garlic at the grocery store, try growing it yourself. Homegrown garlic has an entirely different flavor profile compared to the diced stuff you get in a tub at the supermarket. Bring your cooking to life with authentic homegrown garlic in your recipes.
In this guide, we’ll give you everything you need to know about growing garlic this coming season.
When to Plant Your Garlic
- 1 When to Plant Your Garlic
- 2 Tips for Selecting a Planting Site
- 3 How to Plant Your Garlic
- 4 How to Care for Your Garlic
- 5 Pests and Diseases Affecting your Garlic Crop
- 6 Tips for Harvesting Your Garlic
- 7 Tips for Storing Your Garlic
- 8 Recommended Garlic Varieties
It’s best to plant your garlic in the late fall or early winter months of the year. In warmer climates that don’t experience seasonal frosts, you can plant in the early spring. Garlic roots will develop during the fall and winter, before the soil freezes. In the early springtime, the bulbs will begin to shoot green foliage above the soil.
The timing for planting in each region of the country varies depending on the local climate. The idea behind planting your garlic early in the winter is to develop a root system before the winter sets in for the season. However, you don’t want the garlic to start producing top growth before the winter begins.
In northern states, it’s best to plant between September and November. Warm areas that experience mild conditions in the wintertime make it suitable for planting garlic in February or early March.
Tips for Selecting a Planting Site
We recommend that you choose a sunny spot in your vegetable garden to plant your garlic. Garlic enjoys growing in loamy, fertile soil with a pH of between 6.5 to 7. If your soil is sandy, then add some fertilizer and organic compost to the ground for Additional nutrients.
Garlic also grows very well in raised beds, as well. Remember to mulch the soil around the tops of the garlic every month to keep away pests during the growing season. The ground needs good drainage, as waterlogged soils will cause the onset of rot in your garlic bulbs.
If you decide to use raised beds for your garlic, make them 2 to 3-feet wide and 10 to 12-inches in height. Remember to lime the soil as well. Add a few teaspoons of bone meal to your soil, and then till thoroughly before planting your garlic.
How to Plant Your Garlic
Visit your local nursery and purchase some garlic seeds. Ask the consultant about the best varieties to grow in your area before you buy it. It’s essential that you don’t try and grow the cloves you buy from the grocery store. These cloves might be suitable for growing in different climates, and many of them come treated to preserve shelf life, making them more challenging to grow.
Select large, healthy garlic cloves that have no visible signs of disease: the bigger your clove, the larger and more robust the bulb. Break apart the cloves from the bulb before planting, but ensure that you keep the husk on the cloves.
Place the cloves in the soil, 2-inches deep, and 4-inches apart. Place the clove in the ground with the wide side facing down. If you want to plant in rows, then make sure they have a spacing of at least 10 to 14-inches.
How to Care for Your Garlic
Gardeners in the northern states should ensure that they mulch properly and cover the cloves with some dry straw before the winter arrives. If the ground freezes, it will kill the clove’s root system. Layer straw and burlap over your beds before the winter comes if you live in an area that experiences heavy snowfalls,
Your garlic won’t need watering over the winter, and you only need to remove the straw and burlap after the last frosts fall in your area. As the spring arrives, you’ll notice the green shoots coming through the soil. Cut off any sprouts that develop in the spring, as they may decrease your bulb size.
Apply fertilizer to the beds in the early spring, and side-dress with a nitrogen-based fertilizer like blood meal or pellets. Fertilize the bulbs again as the summer season arrives. This strategy helps to maximize bulb size.
Remember to weed your beds and feed your plants more nitrogen if the leaves start to turn yellow. In May through June, water your garlic every three to five days, and taper off your watering toward mid-June.
Pests and Diseases Affecting your Garlic Crop
Fortunately for gardeners, garlic is one of the few things you can grow in your garden that does not attract any pests. You can plant garlic to help you keep pests out of your yard as well. Garlic contains a natural polyphenol known as “Allicin.” Allicin acts as a natural anti-microbial, protecting the plant from disease.
However, your garlic bulbs can contract diseases if you don’t care for them appropriately throughout the growing season. The only real concern for garlic growers is the development of white rot. This fungus may attack the roots of your garlic in cold weather.
White rot will kill your garlic, and you’ll need to restore the ground by leaving it to rest for a few seasons afterward. White rot is a pathogen that overwinters in the soil, affecting next year’s crop.
Tips for Harvesting Your Garlic
When harvesting a fall panting, you’ll be pulling your bulbs anywhere between late June to early August. When you start to notice the foliage turning yellow around this time, it’s a sign that your garlic is nearly mature.
Harvest when the tops start to yellow and begin to fall over onto the ground. The best way to see if your crop is ready is to lift one of the bulbs and check. The head of the garlic should have divisions of cloves, and the skin covering the bulb will have a papery and dry texture.
If you pull your garlic too early, you’ll find that the covering is too thin, and it disintegrates shortly after pulling. If you leave your garlic in the soil for longer than is needed, it results in the bulb splitting apart, and the skin might split. Split skin attracts disease, and makes the garlic unsuitable for storage.
Don’t dig up your bulbs using a garden fork, as you might damage the cloves. Pull then out of the ground and shale off the excess spoil. Don’t rinse your garlic, store it dry in a root cellar. You can hang garlic in a string of 4 to 6-bulbs, and let it dry out in a ventilated room or root cellar with good air circulation.
Tips for Storing Your Garlic
Your garlic is ready for storage after the bulbs are dry, and the papery covering is easy to crush between your fingers. The root crown should feel hard, and it should be easy7 to crack the cloves apart in your hands.
Remove any excess dirt, and leave the cloves in the paper wrapper. Store your garlic in a root cellar at a cool temperature of 40°F. The cellar should be dark, with plenty of airflows. If you store your garlic the right way, it can last you for months.
Don’t store your garlic in the fridge as it turns soft and loses its flavor. As the garlic bulbs dry, the taste of the cloves intensifies. If you plan on planting another crop in the late fall for the following year, keep your biggest and best-looking bulb for new cloves to plant.
Recommended Garlic Varieties
There are three types of garlic available to plant in your garden. Each of them has unique characteristics and flavor profiles. In most varieties, the bulbs are ready to harvest 90-days after planting.
As the name would suggest, this garlic variety produces a neck on the garlic that remains soft after your harvest. These are the types of garlic that you see hanging in stores in braids. This variety grows well in warmer climates. Softneck garlic varieties have a strong flavor and aroma.
Softnecks also grow larger bulbs because the bulb doesn’t divert energy into producing bulblets like other hardneck varieties.
Softneck varieties include “Inchelium Red,” “Silverskin,” “California Early,” and “California late.”
This type of garlic grows one ring of cloves around a central stem. There is no layering of cloves like you get with softneck varieties. Hardneck garlic is resilient to cold weather conditions and suitable for growing in the northern states. The hardnecks have a milder flavor than the softneck varieties, but they are more popular for use in cooking than softneck types.
Hardneck varieties include; “Duganski,” “Korean Red,” “Siberian,” “Chesnok Red,” “Spanish Roja,” and “German Red.” In addition to growing the bulb underground, the varieties also produce bulblets at the tips of the foliage as well.
Elephant or “Great-headed” Varieties – If you’re growing garlic for cooking, then stay away from this variety. Elephant garlic has a close relation to leeks than garlic, and it has a woody flavor.