The growing season has come to an end for this year. It was a good year overall. Many things from the garden are frozen, canned or preserved. One of the last things I like to do before the frost comes and freezes the ground solid is to plant some garlic for next year. Garlic is a bulb and should be planted in the fall. Garlic is very easy to grow and requires very low maintenance.
How to Grow Garlic
I like to grow a hard neck variety of garlic. Hard neck garlic tolerates the winter better. It allows me to dry it and store it in my basement for use all winter long. I like to prep my raised bed before I plant my garlic. Make sure to clear any old roots and weeds from the area. Start by leveling out the area you would like to plant your garlic. Just poke some holes a few inches deep and a few inches apart in several rows. It all depends on how many cloves of garlic you plan on stowing.
Selecting the Seeds
Now it is time to select the seeds or cloves that you want to plant. I pick two or three of my best garlic heads from this year that I have previously dried and stored in my basement in a burlap sack. Start by gently breaking each clove from the heads of garlic. Those will be your seeds for planting. Each clove will produce one head of garlic.
Now it is time to plant your cloves. Place a clove in each of the holes you previously poked. Make sure that each clove is facing the right way when planting. Each clove should have the large or butt end facing down and the slim or pointed tip facing up. Then put about a teaspoon of organic fertilizer in each hole. Cover the holes with dirt and water.
Covering for Winter
I like to cover my garlic seeds with some grass clippings or leaves to help protect and insulate them from the winter snow and frost. Just gather up some leaves or grass clippings and lay them over the seeds. You don’t need to put too much over them, about 1/4 inch to a 1/2 inch will do.
Once spring arrives you should start to see some shoots appear. I like to sprinkle some more organic fertilizer over them to help them grow. Remember to water your garlic when the ground is dry. Just don’t over water them.
Generally, garlic needs to be pulled when the stocks are of good height. Here in New England garlic is ready to be pulled sometime in July. Once the outer leaves begin to turn yellow and brown it’s time to check if they are ready. Start by pulling one stalk and see if the head is fully developed and of good size. If you are satisfied with the look of the garlic you can pull them all. You are looking for tight heads. The tricky part is if you leave them in too long they will begin to separate and open up. If this happens they will not store for very long, so it is a matter of timing.
Garlic is fun and easy to grow. The nice part is it does not take up too much space in your garden. In a future post, I will show you how I dry my garlic for storing. Try to grow garlic today, you will not regret it.