The summer growing season is over and now it’s time to get ready for spring. Cooler temperatures make gardening chores much more pleasant. One of those chores is planting garlic. I live in winter hardiness zone 7. The best time to plant garlic for my area is around mid-October to mid-November. The garlic will start growing its roots before the cold air settles in to help it get ready for the early spring growth.
There are two different varieties of garlic – softneck and hardneck.
The softneck variety has a flexible stem which enables the garlic to be braided for drying. The shelf life is about 9-12 months. It’s a good garlic to grow in milder climates.
The hardneck variety has a hard central stem which flowers in the spring. It’s called a scape and can be cut and used in cooking. The cloves are larger than the softneck variety which makes them easier to peel. The shelf life is up to 6 months.
Before planting garlic, the papery skin has to be peeled off and each clove needs to be separated from the bulb. The skin covering each separate clove can stay on to help protect it from rotting.
I plant my garlic 6″ apart in a 3′ wide bed. To make the job easier, I use a template to mark the holes, then I remove the template and dig a hole that is about 3″ deep. This allows me to cover each clove with 1 1/2″ to 2″ of compost.
When planting garlic, make sure the pointed part of the clove is sticking up and the straight, flat side is down.
The garlic will send up green shoots in early spring (or sometimes a few weeks after it is planted in the fall) and be ready for harvesting around mid-June.
I order my garlic from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange in Mineral, Virginia (southernexposure.com). Popular varieties can sell out quickly, so it’s best to order earlier in the summer for fall shipment.
Enjoy the fall weather, and go plant some garlic!