Growing Garlic

GarlicA member of the onion family, garlic (Allium sativum) has been cultivated for thousands of years and was most likely brought to this country by European immigrants. Today growing garlic has become popular in many home gardens. The plant is valued for its pungent flavor and many health benefits.

Site Preparation:

Each spring, work plenty of compost into your growing 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 growing season.

How to Plant:

Plant garlic in spring in cold winter regions, in late fall in mild winter areas. To plant, break the bulbs apart into individual cloves, plant with the pointed end up, 1 inch deep in rows 1 foot apart. Top the soil with 4-6 inches of mulch to help maintain soil moisture and limit weeds. Fertilize by spraying leaves every two weeks with fish emulsion and kelp extract, or side dress with a light application of blood meal.

Tip: Planting garlic under a peach tree may prevent peach-leaf curl.

Harvesting:

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 6-10 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: Recycled mesh onion bags are perfect for storage.

Insects and Diseases:

Garlic has very few pests associated with it. Occasionally, the onion maggot larva can be seen in the cloves upon 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 6-8 months when stored in the dark at 35-40 degrees F. and 60 % humidity.

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