We planted our garlic today. This is something that is done in the fall and we usually put ours in the ground in October. If you’re new to growing garlic, here’s what you need to know.
Buy seed garlic from a local garden center or on-line seed source. Don’t plant supermarket garlic intended for cooking… it might not be a variety that will do well in your region. Seed garlic comes in whole heads like this. Be sure it’s firm, not soft or moldy. Garlic heads are not planted whole – you separate all the individual cloves before planting.
Here is how the cloves look once they are separated from the head. Pictured here are three different garlic varieties. From left to right they are Music, Purple Italian, and Spanish Roja. These get planted with the slightly flat, or root side down and the pointy ends up.
Make trenches in the soil that are 3 to 4 inches deep. We space our trenches about 18″ apart in our garden so that in the spring lettuce can be planted in between the garlic plants. If you are growing in raised beds or smaller spaces you can put the rows about 8 inches apart. Put the cloves of garlic in the trenches with the flat side down. Space the cloves about 6 to 8 inches apart so that the new heads of garlic will be able to grow large without hitting the neighboring garlic. After the trenches are filled push the soil over the cloves and water the area well to settle the soil and allow good contact between the cloves and the ground.
The new garlic bed is shown at the top right of this photo. We are still harvesting many veggies from the October garden including beets and mustard greens (shown here) as well as chard, kale, broccoli, carrots, lettuce, and arugula.
Your garlic will sprout in about three weeks, and you’ll see tiny new shoots that will grow until the winter temperatures get really cold. Garlic doesn’t need protection where I garden in a warm zone 6, but if you live in colder areas you might want to put a layer of chopped up leaves around the plants after they come up. Don’t do this too early, however…the sun will warm the soil better in November and early December if it isn’t covered by mulch.