Planted in fall, garlic is easy to grow and adds a new dimension to typical table fare.
Sunlight: Full sun
Maturity: Fall planted garlic is harvested the following year
Height: 12 to 24 inches
Spacing: 4 to 6 inches apart, 1 to 2 feet between rows
A member of the onion family, garlic (Allium sativum) has been cultivated for thousands of years. Today growing garlic is popular in many home gardens. And why not? It’s ridiculously easy to care for, takes up little room in the garden and looks great!
Garlic — known as the stinking rose — is valued for its pungent flavor and many health boosting benefits. Research has shown that garlic can reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering LDL cholesterol levels and high blood pressure.
Fact: Hippocrates (born c. 460 bc) who is regarded as the father of Western medicine used garlic for treating poor digestion, shortness of breath, parasites and lethargy.
Each spring work plenty of organic compost into your planting area. Garlic thrives in all zones and does very well in raised beds, except in very dry areas. It requires full sun, sandy fast-draining soil rich in organic matter and regular water during the gardening season.
How to Plant:
Plant garlic in spring in cold winter regions; late fall in mild winter areas (see Fall is Garlic Planting Time). When planting, break the bulbs apart into individual cloves and, with the papery husks on, poke the cloves into the ground with the pointed end up (root end down) 1 inch deep in rows 1 foot apart. Top the soil with 4 to 6 inches of mulch to help maintain soil moisture and limit weeds. Fertilize by spraying leaves every two weeks with fish and kelp fertilizer or side dress with a good organic bulb food.
Tip: If you want to produce large garlic bulbs plant only large garlic cloves.
Harvest using a spading fork when the leafy tops fall over, usually in June or July depending on your location. Air-dry the bulbs by tying plants together in bundles of 6 to 10 and hanging them to cure for about four to six weeks. When completely dry, remove the tops and the roots and store in a cool dry area. Spring-planted garlic requires 120-150 days to reach maturity. However, the best quality and yields are from fall planted garlic.
Tip: Looking for a tasty treat? Every gourmand worth her designer sea salt is using garlic scapes to flavor dishes ahead of the garlic harvest.
Insects and Diseases:
Garlic has very few pests associated with it. Occasionally, the onion maggot larva can be seen in cloves when harvesting. The typical symptom is premature dying of the leaf tips.
Seed Saving Instructions:
After curing, garlic may be stored in paper bags or hung in braids or in bunches. Bulbs that are to be used for planting stock will keep for 6 to 8 months when stored in the dark at 35-40˚F and 60% humidity.