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Growing Garlic

Growing Hardneck Garlic from cloves or rounds

  • When: October. The idea is to let garlic to root before the winter.   If planted too late (end November for example), then cloves will not have time to root before winter, and most probably will die overwinter, or - if survive and root in the spring - they will grow into a single-clove large round, i.e. not fully developed bulb.
  • Rooted cloves will survive freeze over -25C in the soil and even if they emerge from the surface before winter freeze - they will be OK.  Not rooted cloves will get frozen and die at -10C.
  • Select right spot: make sure the spot where you plant garlic has good drainage and no standing water accumulates there at any time.
  • Prepare soil: add organic matter, shovel/till well 6-8 inches deep. Loose sandy soil is preferable, if heavy clay - add sand and compost.
  • Plant cloves into loose soil as deep so that the top tip of the clove is 2-3  inches below surface. Important: cover the whole back with soil, so that the clove is not pushed up to the surface with heavy rain.
  • Space the garlic plants 6 inches between plants in a row, and 12 inches between rows.
  • Water them moderately right after planting and - if no rain - every week before frost.
  • Cover planting beds with 2-3 inches of organic mulch (such as straw or hay) and leave for the winter.
  • In Spring when new grows emerge, remove mulch to warm up soil more quickly. You may want to put mulch back in later on to protect growth from weeds and soil from drying too much.
  • Garlic plants pretty much "grow by themselves", require very little maintenance that is to keep an eye on weeds overgrowth and water them when needed, i.e. if no rain - water once a week.
  • If you want the bulbs to grow bigger, then remove scapes just after they emerge. Do not throw scapes away, they are delicious by themselves and are used in many cuisines. See Garlic Scapes pictures here.
  • Harvest Garlic beginning of August, when plants start showing signs of yellowing, but still have 3-4 green leaves. Dig and pull the whole pants gently, try to not damage bulbs or stems. Lay them out in sunny spot for half a day, then bunch them  and hang them in shaded, well ventilated area (barn, garage) to cure. Bulbs continue growing during curing. Curing is complete when leaves and stems are completely dry and crunchy. Cut out stems and the root "beard", and remove any dirt  before place to storage.
  • Store garlic in warm (18 °C) and dry and dark place, such as basement as long as it's dry.  Check the stock periodically and discard any soft or moldy bulbs.
What if it's too late to plant garlic cloves ?

Q: what if I got my garlic seeds too late or I forgot to plant them before frost covered my garden ? Can I plant garlic in the Spring ?

A: Hardneck garlic requires prolonged cold dormant time (Winter). Technically same conditions can be found in refrigerator on the top shelf, where you would usually keep milk. You can store the bulbs there in closed container to prevent from drying out, and checking periodically. Bulbs eventually will start sprouting in your fridge. You may then separate cloves and plant them into pots filled with potting soil. Place pots in cold but protected from freezing place (like shed or garage) till the soil outside becomes workable. Then just transplant your garlic plants outside and watch them grow.  Hardneck garlic is very hardy, it will keep growing in cold place. You may even notice one day the green sprouts freeze to the crunchy state, but next day sun warms them up, they will thaw and continue growing.

If you venture to plant hardneck garlic cloves in the spring, they will grow too, however most probably they will grow into one big "round", i.e. a single-clove large bulb.

Growing Hardneck Garlic from bulbils

  • When: In Spring when soil is ready to be worked. Seeds can also be planted in Fall 4-8 weeks before permanent freeze.
  • Select right spot: make sure the spot where you plant garlic has good drainage and no standing water accumulates there at any time.
  • Prepare soil: add organic matter, shovel well 4-6 inches deep.
  • With a 3/4" thick plank make furrows 1.5 inches deep and 6 inches apart from each other. Plant bulbils into furrows spacing them 2-4 inches between each other depending on bulbil size (the bigger bulbils - the bigger spacing). Cover with soil.
  • Water them moderately, but do not soak.
  • After new grows emerge, cover planting beds with 2 inches of organic mulch (such as straw or hay) between plants.
  • Water regularly and protect from weeds overgrowth.
  • Harvest Garlic in August, when plants start showing signs of yellowing, but still have 3-4 green leaves. Dig whole pants gently, try to not damage bulbs or stems. Lay them out or hang them in shaded, well ventilated are to cure. Bulbs continue growing during curing. Curing is complete when leaves and stems are completely dry and crunchy.


Note: In 1st year builbils will grow into "one round" bulbs size of one good clove, You will plant them along with normal cloves in coming Fall.  If the "one round" grows big enough on 1st year, it may form full size bulb on 2nd year. Smaller "one rounds" will need 2 more years to grow into full size bulbs.
 

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