Planting Garlic in the Fall
Garlic is planted in the fall (October) and harvested the following year in the months of July and August. Planting garlic in cool soil produces larger bulbs. Plant in loose, well-draining, amended soil.
Wait to break up the garlic cloves until right before planting. Separate the bulbs into individual cloves and plant each clove at least 4 inches deep and spaced 6-8 inches apart, pointed end up. Cover the beds with a layer of organic mulch such as straw or leaves and water deeply.
The garlic will begin to grow roots through the fall and then lay dormant over winter. Water requirements will be low through the winter. As the weather warms up in the spring, water your garlic deeply about once a week. Stop watering mid-June when the garlic bulbs are to size and begin developing cloves.
Even though garlic bulbs are not ready for harvest until July, growing your own garlic allows you a treat mid-May. This is when hardneck varieties have a scape ready for picking. The scape will be a green shoot protruding from the soil and thicker than the leaves. Harvest the scape right as it begins to curl. This delicacy does not store long, so use right away. Cutting the scape off also encourages the garlic to set larger heads for later harvest.
The garlic bulbs are ready for harvest once the plant leaves begin to brown. Be careful while harvesting the garlic, you want to keep the papery layers intact around the bulb. Push a garden fork or spade beneath the plants, well clear of the sides of the garlic and lift to loosen the bulbs from the soil. Dust off any loose soil and place the plants in a shady pile out of the sun. as soon as all the plants are harvested, move them to a cool, airy location.
To store, the leaves of the garlic can be braided. Bundle garlic tightly to hang or lay across a rack to cure. Depending on the variety, garlic can be stored for many months.
Happy garlic planting!