by Sandy Swegel
A foot or two of snow on the garden may make it seem like the gardening season is over, but if your ground isn’t frozen yet, there’s still time to plant garlic. Fall is the best time to plant garlic (which needs a cooling cycle before growing) and even though it seems like winter already, the garlic will do a lot of root growth before the soil freezes.
Garlic is super easy to grow. If you have garden soil that’s already in decent condition, you can be finished in less than an hour.
Get your garlic, preferably garlic sold for planting or organic garlic from the grocery. There’s a chance that non-organic garlic has been treated to prevent sprouting in the supermarket….which would mean no sprouting or growing in the field.
Take your head of garlic and split it into cloves. Big cloves are better….they make bigger plants.
You’re already half done….that’s how easy garlic is.
Plant garlic 6 inches apart. Plant in a grid, not just a single line. My beds that had lettuce until hard frost are three feet across so I plant in a grid…five cloves the width of the bed and then as long as my row has space. I just had four feet available….so that’s 40 cloves of garlic that will equal 40 heads of garlic next June.
My soil is wet from two weeks of early snows, so I didn’t do a lot of digging because I didn’t want to ruin the soil texture (i.e. dig up clumps of clay). I just took my yardstick to make a straight line and poked 40 holes the depth of my index finger. Then I dropped a clove, pointed side up, in each hole. Press the soil closed around and over the hole. Done.
The two most useful tips that I learned from our local garlic expert Karen Beeman of WeeBee Farms is:
1. Put 2-4 inches of grass or hay (non-pesticide treated of course) as a mulch over the soil. It helps with protection from drying winds and cold.
2. Water very thoroughly, especially if you’re in a dry climate. I don’t mean just stand there with a hose. Put a sprinkler on the area and drench it thoroughly. Or arrange an all-day rainstorm that puts a couple of inches of moisture into the soil. I didn’t water the garlic in so much thinking winter snow would be enough, but my heads were pretty puny at harvest. The cloves didn’t get growing soon enough in soil that was parched from a long hot summer.
There, you’re done for this season. You can harvest some scapes in spring and your fully grown garlic next June or July.
Not bad for an hour (or less) work today!
For more tips from Karen: http://weebeefarms.blogspot.com/2011/09/how-to-plant-garlic.html
Garlic-love Picture: http://lipmag.com/food-2/healthy-bytes-goodness-of-garlic/