The Q&A Archives: Garlic

Question: Planting times and tips?

Answer: You may plant garlic in either fall or spring. To plant, gently
break the whole garlic bulbs apart and separate into
individual cloves, leaving the papery skin intact. Plant the
cloves pointy-end up about 1 to 2 inches deep and 6 to 8
inches apart. For best results, plant only large, solid cloves.
After fall planting, water them in well and then mulch with
about 6 inch layer of chopped leaves, hay or straw. Note that you should start with garlic sold specifically for planting rather than using garlic from the grocery store.

Next year, keep in mind that fall planted garlic will be ready
in spring, spring planted garlic by July or so. You need to keep an
eye on the plants and watch for browning of the foliage.
Some gardeners harvest as soon as the tops begin to brown
and fall over. Professional garlic grower Ron Engelund
harvests his garlic after the leaves begin to brown, but
before they all turn brown. His rule is to harvest when 6 of
the leaves are still green. In his opinion this is optimal in
terms of garlic maturity and its ability to stand up in storage.

For curing, allow any soil left on on bulbs to dry, then hang
the garlic in a garage or other well ventilated spot (or place
them loosely on a slotted tray like a nursery flat) and allow
them to dry for a month. Then collect the bulbs and store
them in a cool place. It is important to have excellent air
circulation around the individual bulbs, too, so some
gardeners will use a mesh bag for storage.

Good luck with your garlic!

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