Just as the summer growing season is winding to a close, it's time to start thinking about planting garlic! Follow the steps below to have a successful garlic growing season:
- Garlic does best in well drained sandy or loamy soil. Find a space that also allows for 4-6” between plants. More space between the individual heads of garlic mean larger bulbs.
- Dig up the soil to reduce compaction and amend the soil with compost or mulch
- Disassemble the garlic heads into cloves, leaving the skin on, and choose the largest cloves to plant.
- Set the cloves 1-2” deep with the tip of each clove pointed up and cover back up with soil (~3” of soil as most seeds need to be covered with three times their size of soil).
- Garlic prefers consistent watering or moisture in the soil. Adding compost or mulch contribute to keeping your soil moisture consistent.
- Your garlic will remain dormant until February, when it will begin to grow green grass-like shoots.
- By July, a “scape” will begin to form from the center of each plant-- you can cut them and eat them like you would regular garlic cloves. It is widely believed that by cutting the scape (which eventually will turn into a flower and seed head) more of the plant’s energy will go into the bulb, therefore increasing bulb size; but some do not agree--so experiment with your garden and see what works best!
- Once you begin to notice the leaves of the garlic plant yellowing, stop watering. You want the garlic to dry out, so that it stores better and longer.
- When half the leaves are dried out like in the image below, it is time to harvest.
- Gently loosen the soil around the heads of garlic and lift the bulbs out of the ground (pulling can break the stem off the bulb, which reduces the garlic’s ability to store well).
- Do not wash the bulbs! You can gently knock off the excess soil, but once dried for a while that soil will brush off easily.
- Place your garlic in a shady, well ventilated and dry place (like on a shady patio, underneath a porch, or in a garage) to cure for a couple weeks.
- Once the foliage is completely dry, cut the garlic stem down to about an inch or two above the bulb, and brush off excess dirt. It’s okay if the outside wrapper comes off during this process, but don’t purposefully peel any of the rest of the wrapping.
- You can now store your garlic bulbs in a dark, cool, dry place for consumption and planting again in the fall!