Monday, October 25, 2010

Planting Garlic


Have you planted garlic?
Columbus Day is the traditional day to plant garlic here in the northeast but any time from September to November are great times for planting garlic.

You can wait until spring to plant garlic, but since it will have a shorter time to grow, the bulbs will be smaller.

I know a few of you are rolling your eyes at even the thought of planting garlic. Isn't garlic cheap to buy? Maybe. But garlic has to be one of the easiest thing to grow. Push it into the ground in the fall and basically forget about it until next July when you pull out a plump garlic bulb. If you mulch, you won't even have to weed.

I have found that the local garden centers only sell garlic bulbs to plant in the spring. Guess they think that no one is thinking about planting garlic in the fall.

I've had success at planting grocery store garlic but you run two risks. First, it may have been treated with some sort of anti-sprouting chemical. (A reason to grow your own.) Second, it may be a variety of garlic that grows well in China, but not in your area.

If you can find some untreated bulbs at a farmer's market that were grown somewhere close to you, you'll have some great growing stock.

Otherwise, plan to order from a reputable company. (I know, I should have written about this weeks ago so you would have time to order.) I have found that the most popular varieties sell out early so it pays to order early and most companies will ship at the proper planting time.

The number of garlic varieties is limitless. I ordered two varieties that were reputed to grow well in my area. I chose a hard neck and a soft neck variety. The "neck" refers to the inner stem.  I like using hard neck garlic because the cloves are larger and easier to peel. But soft neck garlic is easier to braid and some say it stores better.

The great news- once you purchase some garlic sets, you'll never need to buy garlic again. After pulling your garlic in July, allow it to dry. I hung mine in the wood shed where it was nice and airy but out of the rain. In the fall, separate the bulbs into individual cloves. Keep the papery skin intact if possible. Plant each clove several inches deep in good fertile soil and it will grow into a new bulb by next summer.

See how simple it is!
Every year I increase the amount of garlic I plant and save the rest for eating. But so far, I haven't had enough to last the year. But if I keep increasing the amount I plant, eventually I should have  plenty for planting and eating.

Give garlic a try and enjoy the flavor of home grown garlic.

You may also enjoy reading Time to Plant Garlic at Simple Green and Frugal.

Linked to Tuesday Garden Party

4 comments :

  1. Great timing for me as I just researched and got some for our backyard garden! I am very excited to try it this winter! We also got a soft neck and hard neck variety! I am excited to see how they do. So far most of them sprouted just fine and are growing tall! We are adding compost this week and then mulching soon! Thanks for posting all of the great info!

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  2. That does sound simple, but our garden area is so limited (so far). Does it take a lot of room? We love garlic so I'm assuming we'd want to plant a lot! :)

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  3. I have been meaning to plant garlic for the past 4 years! All of a sudden its Thanksgiving and the ground is frozen and no garlic for us. Thanks for the reminder, I am adding it to my to do list this week.

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  4. Ellen -
    If your space is super limited, you might not want to plant garlic. On the other hand if you have a spare foot or so - even if only in a flower bed, you could try pushing a few bulbs in the ground and see how they do for you. Garlic does like rich soil and I usually place them about six inches apart. If you plant in a block instead of a row, you can plant more per square foot.
    Gina

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