Garlic not only adds flavor and fragrance to your cooking, it has incredible health benefits as well. But did you know that garlic is one of the easiest plants there is to grow? Even if you have never planted anything before, you’ll find that it is very easy to grow garlic. If you have just 1 square foot of good soil in a sunny area, you can grow 9 or 10 bulbs.
WHY GROW GARLIC?
First of all, there is the satisfaction of eating something that you grew yourself. Second, most of the garlic in the supermarkets comes from China and gets irradiated to help with shipping. Irradiation causes the garlic to lose a lot of its beneficial qualities, and irradiated garlic cloves will not grow into new plants. Third, growing your own will save you a lot of money if you use a lot of garlic in the kitchen. One garlic BULB (the whole plant that you purchase) has many CLOVES in it, and each clove is the seed for a new garlic plant. After your first season of planting you may never have to buy garlic again!
You can plant garlic cloves in the late fall, drench them with some organic fertilizer, and harvest them in July. In the months between, aside from a little spring fertilizing and watering if needed, there is little to do. It grows itself. Insects and disease problems are almost non-existent for garlic in the home garden. (Gophers do like garlic, so you may need to protect plants if gophers come to your area.) Once once harvested, homegrown garlic will keep for a good 6 months if stored in a cool, dark area.
Tips: If you have the space, plant the cloves 5-6” apart. Plant with the point of the clove upwards, and the flat part downwards. Plant so the bottom of the clove is 2″ deep. Use larger size bulbs of garlic for your planting if you want to get similar large size cloves. After planting, cover the bed with an inch or two of mulch. This will help hold moisture, even out temperatures and prevent weeds. Chopped leaves or straw is fine to use. Aged wood chips work well too. Keep the beds well-weeded to prevent competition for space and nutrients.
Garlic grows best (bigger) in a well-drained, lighter soil. If you have more of a heavy clay soil, a few applications of Aerify Plus can help improve soil aeration. Mulching the bed will also encourage earthworms, which are nature’s best aerators.
WHEN TO PLANT
October through the first week in November is ideal for Northern climates but you can usually go a little later if you mulch well and haven’t had significant snow yet. You can definitely plant a little later in the warmer zones. The idea is to get the plants to root really well before the winter. A lot of above-ground growth in the fall is not that desirable so late planting is better.