by RidgeView | September 15, 2016
Fall is traditionally the time to plant garlic in our region. As part of the allium family (like Onions) garlic is sensitive to the length of daylight periods, so it does it’s best growing during the long days of summer. By planting in the Fall you provide the plant a jump start on the growing season and it will prove to be one of the first shoots of green you see next spring.
Garlic is fairly easy to grow, however the right soil and adequate water is critical for large healthy bulbs. The soil should be well tilled, rich soil with excellent drainage with a neutral pH. Add manure and compost as a topdressing to the bed prior to planting. We recommend choosing several different varieties to try and plant at once as you can monitor which perform well and which do not.
Separate the cloves no more than 48 hours before planting them to keep them from drying out. The largest cloves will produce the biggest bulbs. Plant individual cloves, with their peels intact and the pointy end up. They should spaced 2” deep and 6” apart. Your garlic will begin to form roots before the winter but you won’t see much action on the top of the soil.
In the spring you will be rewarded with bright green shoots emerging from the soil almost as soon as the ground begins to thaw. As previously mentioned during these first few months it’s critical to keep them well watered. Do this by adding 1” of water in addition to any rainfall. Around the end of June you should see a particular type of green shoot, called a garlic scape. These are the belle of the foodie industry and can be cut and cooked in a variety of recipes. You will want to cut them regardless as it encourages bulb growth, so you might as well eat them! Just be sure to leave enough leaves for the next phase of growing.
Stop watering in July as this is when the garlic should be moving into the drying period. Harvest around the end of July or early August, when the lower third of the remaining leaves have turned brown and wilted but the upper leaves are still green.
Pull the full bulb from the ground, hang to dry for 3-4 days in a cool dry place. Keep the biggest cloves to be re-planted for next year. Finally, slice, dice, mash or crush your delicious garlic into any dish you desire.