Fall is garlic planting time, and growing garlic is fun and easy. In order to get you off to a good start, we’ve put together a series of garlic planting and harvest slides. We also have a ‘cheat sheet’ of garlic planting instructions, which you can download here.
Seed Savers Exchange members have access to over 300 varieties of garlic. Become a member and order garlic through the Seed Savers Exchange Yearbook.
Plant your garlic between September 15 and November 30, depending on where you live. The optimum planting time is after the first light frost.
Garlic is a heavy feeder and likes loose, rich soil with lots of organic matter and a pH of 6.5. Plant the largest cloves to grow the largest bulbs. Leave the outer skin on the bulbs, and do not separate the cloves from the bulb until you are ready to plant.
Cover with 2” of soil and a 6” layer of mulch (straw, hay, or grass clippings mixed with leaves). Do not remove mulch in the spring; it helps control weeds, preserves moisture, and provides nutrients as it decomposes.
Cloves may begin to sprout through the mulch in 4-8 weeks, depending upon the variety and the weather conditions. Do not be concerned. The plants may suffer frost or a small freeze but will survive the weather. Garlic will begin to emerge in early spring. (Heritage Farm garlic, April 27, 2012)
One or two foliar applications of fertilizer are beneficial before May 15. Do not fertilize after May 15 as this is detrimental. Garlic needs about 1” of water per week during the growing season. Cease all watering about June 1; this allows for better bulb formation and ease of harvest. Garlic does not compete well with weeds, so keep them under control, especially early in the season.
Harvest after leaf die-back begins and there are still five green leaves remaining on the plant—sometime in June or early July depending upon the year and your climate. Do not wait too long or the bulbs will begin to separate in the ground. Dig the garlic carefully, do not pull the stalk or it will separate from the bulb.
Gently brush most of the dirt off—do not wash. Be careful not to bang the garlic bulbs against each other or a hard object—they will bruise. Remove from the sun immediately.
Tie in bundles of 6-10 and hang in a shaded, dry, well-ventilated shed or garage. Leave hanging for 4-6 weeks.
…and cut the stalks off about 1 1/2 inches above the bulb.
Store in net bags—old onion bags work well. For optimum storage, hang in an area with 45-55% humidity and a temperature of 50-70 degrees. Do not refrigerate.