This past weekend, I had the luxury of – for once – having very few plans. Aside from my usual exercise commitments in the mornings, and a late-afternoon coffee date with a friend, I was left to my own devices (Mike was working both days).
This can usually go one of two ways: I’m either uber-productive, or I basically do nothing. But the weather was perfect, and I was feeling motivated, so I decided to get my garlic bulbs in the ground while I still can. It’s a pretty good bet the earth will be frozen in no time – all I hear on the weather now is about the Arctic Chill sweeping through the country.
There is no reason not to plant garlic – it takes hardly any time, they take care of themselves all winter and then, like magic, they start growing when spring arrives. You can plant them in the spring, but overwintering them means bigger and more flavorful bulbs.
The Internet advises planting your garlic before the first hard frost of the season, so for my little part of the world that means mid-October to early November. I waited this year because we’ve had unseasonably warm fall temps, and when I planted in October last year, some of the garlic sprouted and didn’t make it through the winter. Lesson learned!
Simply get one or two full garlic bulbs from a local farm stand or order from a seed supplier. Don’t plant garlic from the grocery store because it might not be suitable for the climate where you live.
Separate each clove from each other and from the center stalk. Leave the papery skin casing on, but it’s OK if it tears off in places.
One end of the clove is pointed and smooth, and the other, fatter end is flat and has root tips. This is the end you want in the ground, because it will take root from the bottom and sprout out the other end.
Plant each clove about 2 inches below the surface of the soil, and about 4 inches apart from each other. I mixed some fertilizer in with the soil before planting.
Because you’re overwintering the garlic, you want to insulate them well by placing a layer of straw, mulch, or seaweed on top. I’ve used seaweed the past couple of years and it has worked very well.
Madison was a good sport for garlic planting day. I think she got into it. I planted 8 cloves in this garden spot (above) in rows of 2. (That green mound in the middle is a chive plant that’s on its last legs from the summer.)
Water the garlic once or twice per week, depending on rainfall, following the initial planting.
I’d love to hear from you if you have any tips, or want to share your garlic planting experiences!