The Q&A Archives: Desert Garlic Growing

Question: I am not interested in hybrids...just the good old pungent garlic. How do I prior to planting fert....when do I plant & then properly maintain it..and how do I know when to pull it to let it dry...and for how long! Also do you sell the cloves to give me the garlic that I love!

Answer: Plant garlic in October-November in the desert. Plant in a fertile, well-drained soil with plenty of organic matter. (More info on soil improvement below.) Plant 1-2 inches deep, depending on the size of the clove. Soil should be consistently moist but not wet during the growing season. When the tops begin to yellow and die back on their own as temperatures warm up next spring/summer, stop watering. Bulbs will mature and dry on their own and can be harvested.

To improve your soil, incorporate plenty of compost. In sandy soils, compost improves soil fertility, water and nutrient retention. In clay soils, it improves fertility and drainage. Add a 4-6 inch layer of compost and incorporate it about 12-18 inches deep. You can use manure if it is well-aged (6 months) or you won't be planting until it has lost it's heat and decomposed. Each planting season, add more compost. Incorporate a balanced fertilizer (e.g., 10-10-10) or add organic fertilizers such as fish emulsion, bone meal, and seaweed/kelp. Follow package instructions.

After planting, add a 1-2 inch layer of mulch. Mulch is great to help retain soil moisture, reduce weeds, and as it breaks down it provides nutrients to the soil. Any organic matter can be used as mulch. Try compost, bark, wood chips, straw, or pine needles. As it breaks down, dig it into your soil and add more.

Burpee offers several garlics. Check out the website for descriptions. Another specialty supplier is Filaree Farm at Enjoy your garlic!

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