The Q&A Archives: Why Didn't My Garlic Grow?

Question: Around April of this year I planted garlic for the first time. I bought a bulb at the local farm supply store and planted the 17 individual cloves. The plants didn't frow to more than a foot tall and by the end of August, had dried up and keeled over. The bulbs were about an inch to 1 1/2" in diameter. I saved these, thinking maybe I could plant them next spring. I never planted garlic before and noticed on this site you suggest planting before the ground freezes in the fall. Was my mistake planting in the spring? It's the 2nd week of December and the ground still isn't frozen, so could I still plant now? Could I expect a better growth next year if I plant now? And, could I use the cloves I got from the small bulbs I got this year?

Answer: In cold winter areas, garlic does best when planted in the fall. The typical recommendation is to plant 4-6 weeks before the ground freezes. But as long as we're experiencing such mild weather and your ground isn't frozen yet, why not give it a try? Plant the cloves a few inches deep and several inches apart. They do best in well-amended soil with good drainage. Add a layer of mulch after you have a few hard freezes to protect them over winter. When they start growing, remove the mulch. When the soil warms, add a side dressing of nitrogen fertilizer. The tops drying and tipping over is a natural sign that the bulbs are maturing and readying for harvest. You can plant those cloves. Good luck!

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