Simple Gardening Tip: Plant Garlic Now

Chesnok Red is a purple stripe, hardneck garlic, perfect for planting now and harvesting next year.

Chesnok Red Garlic blogIf you’re looking for a simple way to get a head start on next year’s gardening, plant garlic. Planting now means you’ll be rewarded next summer when your own garden-fresh garlic is ready to harvest.

If you’ve followed my garlic-growing trials, you know that I took it as a personal gardening challenge to find ways to improve my garlic yield. I didn’t want to just grow more garlic, I wanted to grow bigger heads of garlic, too.

When I dug my garlic in late July, I was happy with the results and now I think I’ve cracked the code to growing great garlic.

First, start with good quality seed garlic. Tagawa Gardens in Aurora, Colo., had so many different varieties, I spent nearly 15 minutes reading the descriptions and making my choices. I bought Inchelium Red, Music, Chesnok Red and Romanian Red. I guess I like red garlic!

I tried four different varieties last year, too. It seems I’m partial to the hardneck varieties, like Chet’s Italian and Georgian Crystal, because they seem to have a more intense flavor when used in cooking.

Hardneck garlic also produces a flower stalk called a scape that can also be used for grilling or cooking.

Second, choose only the biggest cloves for planting. Plant 4-6 weeks before the first hard freeze so the garlic can start to root and grow. Sow the pointed end up, 1 inch deep and about 3-4 inches apart in well-cultivated and amended soil. Cover with a thick layer of mulch.

I think one of the secrets to growing a good crop is to keep the garlic from drying out over the winter.

Third, feed with a high-nitrogen fertilizer in spring when the garlic starts growing again. Feed regularly for the best results.

If you plant hardneck garlic, watch for the scapes to emerge and cut them while they’re still young and tender. Bulbs will grow larger if the plant’s energy isn’t spent on producing a stalk and aerial cloves called bulbils.  Leave one scape intact to signal when garlic is ready to harvest.

After harvesting, let the garlic dry. Now I’ve been using my home-grown garlic in all kinds of recipes from mixing it with butter for garlic toast, to simmering in sauces, soups and chili. I’ve even baked it for a delicious game-day appetizer.

Fall is the ideal time to plant spring flowering bulbs–and garlic, too. They’ll each provide a special garden welcome next spring.


 

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Comments

Great info about garlic. I have always wanted to grow some but wasn’t sure when to plant. I never realized just how many different kinds there are, thanks!

Oh yeah–there are so many delicious varieties it’s fun just to read the descriptions of tastes and flavors. Some are mild; others are HOT. I hope you decide to plant some. If you have questions, just let me know.

Thanks for the reminder to get planting garlic! It’s easy to forget when you start putting the garden to bed, rather than get it ready to wake up.

Doesn’t your garlic self seed and take up too much room? I remember having all kinds of sprouts that looked like onions coming up non stop during the summer.

I’ve never had this problem with my garlic plants–they’ve always been well-behaved. I’ve always cut the scapes before they’ve gone to seed.

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