Planting Autumn Garlic
Can you ever have enough garlic? I know we used 10 cloves in tonight’s dinner alone, so I’m already worried that we don’t have enough to last the winter. After disappointing seasons of not being able to grow garlic at all we’ve had great results the last few years. With a little practice, garlic is one of the easiest and most satisfying crop to grow, no matter what size of garden you’re tending to.
A few years back we were given some county-fair-award-winning-garlic with firm instructions: Eat half and plant half. Do this for a few years and you’ll have what you need. We pick the nicest, biggest garlic heads to plant and then eat the rest. This year we’ve planted 320 bulbs all descended from just a few given to us a few years ago. This fall, we added one head of Mennonite garlic from Railway Creek just to mix things up.
So let’s plant some garlic:
We’re starting a whole new bed this year since doubling your garlic ever year means eventually you’ll need more space. After finding a well draining spot we gave my brother Patrick and Ryan turns with the Mantis rototiller and had a great spot in no time. Once you’ve got a bed of nice loose soil, rake it smooth with a hard rake and then dig shallow trenches 4-6cm deep and 20cm apart (that’s about 2 inches and about half a foot).
Now take your heads of garlic and break them into individual cloves. Leave as much of the skins on as possible.
Plant them in the trenches pointy side up. I admit that in some earlier gardens I have planted garlic upside down. It really struggles to grow and wastes a lot of energy that should have gone into making a bigger bulb. So pointy side up.
Then cover it up with a hard rake and cover with mulch for the winter. We use straw, dried leaves are another great option.
Then forget about it until spring when it will be one of the first things you see poking up and the next thing you know you’ll have scapes!
Some things to keep in mind:
Garlic likes loose, well drained soil and full sun.
You will want to pick and eat the scapes in the spring to ensure the plant puts effort into the garlic instead of into producing seed.
The less you bother garlic the happier it is, so plant it in your garden somewhere where you wont be tempted to fuss over it until it’s time to harvest late next summer.
Like most things in the garden, garlic planting isn’t an exact science. Rebecca planted the garlic in the 3rd photo in June this year and it grew wonderfully despite the fact that it really shouldn’t have.
Here are some articles if you need more information on growing great garlic:
Canadian Gardening has an informative article here:
You Grow Girl has planting instructions for containers and uses her dibbler instead of digging a trench: