Like onions, plant in a sunny location. Along Colorado’s Front Range, garlic should be planted the first week in October for next year’s harvest. This is very important if you want to grow large bulbs.
Garlic is now available at your local garden centers or can be ordered from a local growers, garden catalogs. Our favorite local source is Hobbs Family Farm. Be sure to get your order in on time for fall planting.
Prepare the soil by adding 2 to 3 inches of aged compost and/or sphagnum peat moss to the area to be planted and work it into the top 6 to 8 inches. Also add bone and blood meal (1 tablespoon each for every clove planted).
Each bulb is made up of a bunch of cloves. Plant each clove (do not remove the skin) pointed end up (root side down) on 6 inch centers, 3-4 inches deep.
Garlic needs moist, well drained soil but not soggy soil. Extended drought will reduce the size of your bulbs that you will harvest next summer.
In November, mulch over your garlic planting with a 6 to 8 inch layer of straw/dried grass mix.
They will sprout during the warm fall days. This is normal. The winter will not harm the shoots. It is also normal for the sprouts to experience a slight browning on the tips.
Water through the fall/winter/spring season as needed. It is easy in the late winter or very early spring to forget to check on watering.
If you missed the fall planting, plant the same time you plant onions in the early spring.
In late spring and through the middle of June, fertilize every three weeks with 1/2 strength fish emulsion and seaweed extract (read the directions as to the dilution and then cut it in half).
Break off the flower (the scape) when it appears. This will increase the size of the bulb. The scape is good to eat and can be chopped and used like garlic or tempura battered and fried.
Harvest in the middle to late summer (average date for Colorado Springs is July 21) when some of the leaves are starting to turn brown and the bulbs are large.
Cure just like you would onions by setting the entire plant on a screen or newspaper in a warm well ventilated area out of the sun. We make sure to label our garlic as they dry and loosely bunching the same variety together. In two or three weeks the bulb will be dried and ready for storage inside your house. Cut off the leaves, leaving about two inches of stem attached to the bulb.
Use a permanent marker and write the name of the garlic on each bulb (see picture above).
Store in a cool basement in small paper bags (2-4 bulbs per bag). Keep the bulbs whole until you are ready to use them.
Save a few of the biggest bulbs to plant in October for next year’s crop.
Our Favorite Varieties of Garlic (available at many local garden centers or seed catalogs)