Sunday, November 10, 2013

Planting Garlic - A Fall Favorite

After I installed my first two raised beds, I went ahead and planted garlic for next year.  Planting garlic cloves each fall has to be one of my most favorite things to do as a gardener.  I love the fact that it's the last thing to be sown each year and the first to burst from the ground after a long and often hard New England winter.  In a way, garlic is like the timekeeper of the vegetable garden.  It signals the end of one growing season and the promise (and beginning) of another. 

In my opinion, there's no one 'right' way to plant garlic.  In fact, I like to keep the process as simple as possible.  I don't remove the papery skin or soak my cloves in any kind of sanitizing solution.  Instead, I just try to reserve the largest and healthiest looking bulbs for planting each year.  So far, this has worked out just fine for me. 

 In each row, I like to create a long narrow trench about 2 inches deep with my hand (moving it back and forth like a saw) and then place the individual garlic cloves pointy side up at the bottom of the trench about 6 inches apart.  When all of my cloves are in place and evenly spaced, I push each clove  another inch or two into the soil and then cover up the trench so that the cloves are planted about 4 inches deep.   Each row is then spaced about 6 inches apart.  When all of my cloves are planted, I'll cover the bed with about 3 inches of straw or dried leaves.  And that's basically it. 

This year, I'm growing four varieties of hardneck garlic, three of which I've grown in the past with great success - 'Music', 'Pskem River' and 'German Extra Hardy'.   With the moves that we've had, I wasn't able to grow garlic last year or this year so I had to order new bulbs for planting. This is my third (and hopefully my last) time purchasing seed garlic from Seed Savers Exchange.  While the quality of their stock is always great, I can do without the expense.  (Though it would undoubtedly be going to a great organization.) This past summer, I also found Music and other variety called "Red Russian" at our local farmer's market.  At $1.50 a bulb, it's a fraction of the cost of buying seed garlic online.  Next summer, I think I'll keep an eye out for other varieties worth planting. 

9 comments:

  1. Ha, great minds think alike, I just planted our garlic (and some shallots) this weekend as well, blog post already set up to post in the morning. This is our first attempt, we are excited, fingers crossed! Love your raised beds by the way. I notice some white pvc pipes in the corners? Can you tell me what they are for? I don't have anything like that on ours but later this year I will be building the rest of them and while I might not plant in them next Spring, I want to get the infrastructure in place. If it's something I might should try, I will, ha.

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    2. Blogger is acting up tonight.

      OOOPS! Need to catch up on my blog reading, LOL, just read your post on the bed building. I like the PVC idea, I will include that on my future beds. Better to have it "in case" you need it right? Thanks for the information!!!

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  2. I guess I've been lucky. I bought garlic seed I think only twice in my life so far and brought it with me when I moved last time. At the time I had two varieties, but one didn't grow well in my soil here. So now I just have one. German Extra Hardy. I can't complain about just having one variety though. It is a good variety that is a long keeper.

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  3. I purchased garlic once and have been replanting it for the last 5-years. This year, my SIL moved to the next town over and wants to begin gardening in the spring. I was hoping to purchase some new garlic and share with her but by the time I thought of it, most on-line sources were sold out. Hopefully, next year I will seek out garlic at our local farmers markets in time to expand the amount and variety grown.

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  4. I'll have to get my garlic in soon, this would be the last time I grow storage garlic as they don't keep well in our climate.

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  5. Have you ever tried planting your garlic scapes. I plant mine ever year. Save your scapes and dry them out and plant each clove like you would regular garlic. Its nice to see you back. Thanks for the great postings.

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    1. Hi Johan, no I haven't. I usually cut my scapes when they are still immature and eat them. :) I'm gonna have to let one mature next year and see what happens. My impression was that the tiny cloves on the garlic head needed a year in the ground before they produced nice garlic. I must google now!

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  6. I keep buying seed garlic because I have disease problems with my garlic every year so I like to start fresh. Although this year I'm going to take a few cloves of the very best heads of garlic from last year - maybe they are resistant to the diseases.

    Now I see why you don't fill you beds completely full, it keeps your mulch from blowing away. I don't mulch in my veggie garden, it provides cover for too many bad bugs and in my mild climate the populations can explode during the winter.

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