One of the easiest root crops to plant is garlic. I absolutely love garlic. It stores well after harvesting, it’s a staple in the kitchen and not to mention the health benefits it has. A lot of gardeners plant garlic in the fall because it allows the roots of the garlic to begin growing. When the soil freezes, the garlic becomes dormant. In the spring, the soil will warm up and the garlic will start growing where it left off in the fall. The advantages of planting the fall, gives the garlic a jump start on producing larger bulbs.
A few things to consider before planting…Buying good quality garlic seeds is key to have a bountiful harvest. I will say they are a bit expensive but each clove that is planted grows its own bulb. Also, make sure to plant the garlic seeds about a month or so before the soil freezes. Here on the prairie it freezes right around the beginning of October, we had a warm fall and I was able to plant around the end of October.
There are two categories of garlic, softneck and hardneck. With these types of garlic there are different varieties that grow under each type. A softneck garlic bulb is a usually what you find in the grocery store. The bulb is covered in a papery like skin that grows up the stalk of the garlic creating a softneck. This ideal for those who wish to braided the garlic together for storage.The cloves surround a center portion of the bulb and are usually have a mild flavor. Softenecks are grown more in the southern climates as they like warmer growing temperatures. Softneck Garlic varieties: Silverskin, Artichoke.
Now unlike softneck garlic, the hardneck varieties provides two harvests. Before the garlic is finished producing, it will shoot up a flower stalk which is called a “scape”. Scapes are very good, having a family mild garlic flavor. It’s best to harvest the scapes, creating more energy back to the bulb. The scapes make the stalk very hard and are usually cut a few inches form the bulb. Hardnecks are more suitable to grow in cooler climate, which is perfect for where I live. Hardneck Garlic varieties: Rocambole, Purple Stripe, Porcelain.
Let’s get planting!
Step 1: I have a three by six raised bed that receives about six to eight hours of sunlight which is perfect for planting. I prepared the soil by tilled it up making it really nice and lofty. I added some Bio-Tone Starter Fertilizer to give the the soil food and to promote root growth of the garlic. I created rows about two inches deep and six inches apart from each other.
Step 2: When you buy seed garlic, it come in a bulb. When divided, each clove or seed will produce its own bulb. Choosing the biggest and healthiest cloves will insure large bulbs in the spring. Make sure to leave the paper skin on the cloves when planting.
Step 3: Time to plant! When planting, make sure the cloves are placed pointy end up and flat side down. Cover with soil and give it a firm pack. Make sure to give them a good watering and cover with straw or mulch.
Step 4: Be patient and watch them grow!