Garlic – what is it good for? Absolutely everything! It enhances so many yummy recipes, it’s the focus of fun festivals, and it scares away those pesky vampires. For those living along the Wasatch Front, the season for planting garlic is rapidly coming to an end and the ground will freeze before we know it. We thought it best to take advantage of the final moments of October to re-share our garlic planting tips.
GROWING YOUR OWN GARLIC
1. Select the variety of garlic you wish to grow
There are two main types of garlic – soft-neck and hardneck. Hardneck garlic doesn’t store as well as soft-neck varieties, but has a stronger flavor. If you can’t decide, plant both! You’ll want to plant garlic you’ve saved from a previous harvest and/or purchase it from a ‘seed store’ or nursery to insure it is disease resistant and of high quality.
2. Plant garlic in the fall
Garlic can be planted anytime from mid-September to November. Allow enough time for the bulb to establish roots, but not enough to send up tender shoots before the ground freezes.
3. Prepare the soil
Before planting, incorporate organic matter into the soil to a depth of 6-8 inches. Garlic can tolerate a variety of soil types as long as there is decent drainage.
4. Plant individual cloves
Look for well-developed heads of garlic that have dried and formed a papery sheath. Break them up into individual cloves for planting leaving the protective sheaths intact. Plant the large cloves found on the outside of the bulb for the best results and use the small interior cloves for eating.
5. Plant bulbs 1 to 3 inches deep
Plant a clove every 3-4 inches in rows that are 6-10 inches apart. Place the clove with the pointed end up and cover with 1-3 inches of soil.
6. Irrigate & Fertilize
If your fall weather has been dry, water in your cloves to help get the roots established. Come spring, sidedress with nitrogen in May for good growth and high yields.
If garlic is your ‘jam’ — hmmm garlic jam? You may want to check out this Salt Lake Tribute article written by one of our very own Master Gardeners. The article is full of interesting tidbits and tips. It covers the history of garlic (did you know it has been cultivated over 10,000 years?), provides a ‘garlic variety guide’ and gives guidance on harvesting, curing and storing your finished product.
Additional information about garlic
The Salt Lake Tribune – “Extending the Gardening Season: Get your garlic on”
USU Extension Yard and Garden – Garlic in the Garden
YouTube video “How to Plant and Grow Garlic” (below)
Organic Forecast blog post “Got Vampires? Plant Garlic”.