Thursday, October 11, 2012

Ilona Sherratt: It’s Garlic Planting Time!

Growing garlic doesn’t require much space. If you follow the planting guidelines from Mother Earth News (MEN), 4 square feet of space, equivalent to two 4-foot rows 12 inches apart, with eight cloves of garlic per row will yield 16 garlic bulbs next year. Three large garlic bulbs should contain at least 18 good-size cloves, enough to plant a bed this size. Before the garlic is even ready to harvest in early summer, you can eat some of the green tops and the scapes.

According to MEN:

Break the heads of garlic into cloves. Plant the cloves pointy side up.
Each clove should be planted in the soil 2 to 3 inches deep
and 6 inches from the next clove.
  • Break the garlic bulbs into cloves the day before or on the day of planting, but no earlier because the cloves can dry out. Inspect the cloves, and remove any that are tiny, have blue mold, or look too dried out. Plant only the firm cloves.
  • Make a furrow about 3 inches deep, and place the cloves in it, 6 inches apart. Be sure to plant the cloves pointed end up. If you plant them upside down, they will grow but will be misshapen and smaller than they should be. Make your rows 10 to 12 inches apart. Rake soil back over the cloves, so that they are covered by 2 inches of soil.
  • If it’s been really dry and no rain is forecast, water the bed well.
  • Finally, mulch with 3 to 4 inches of organic material, such as straw, alfalfa hay, or grass clippings. You can mulch immediately after planting or wait a few weeks.
  • That’s it. Your garlic is ready for winter.
I was asked if I’ve saved over garlic from year to year. The answer is yes, but I’ve found that as the garlic plants become accustomed to the garden environment, the strength and size of the bulbs decrease. I like to get fresh bulbs from an outside source after 3 or 4 years. I think the weather has a lot to do with how strong the garlic is, ultimately. I like mild onions and strong garlic but grow them in the same garden, so it’s anyone’s guess how they will turn out every year. Last fall I planted three different varieties of “new” garlic, and I can’t discern any difference in the flavor!

Read more:
Garlic planting from MEN
Fall bulb planting
Fall gardening tips

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