Saturday, October 27, 2012

Planting Garlic

Yesterday was the day to finally get my garlic in. I like to plant the last week of October if I can. When I finished curing my garlic at the end of July I made three piles. The first was the damaged or slightly open bulbs. They were to use up first. I still haven't gotten through them. The second pile was made from the largest and most beautiful bulbs of garlic. These were what I used yesterday. I take the very best from the last harvest and use them to grow next year's garlic. The last pile of course is the garlic that will store through the winter.

The garlic I plant is German Extra Hardy. It makes large bulbs with large cloves. When I first planted it, it only made four cloves in each bulb. But as it has grown out more I've found ones that have made more cloves. I like the ones with more cloves better. That way I get both big and small cloves, which makes for better choices when I cook. And I don't have to replant a quarter of my garlic every year. I do love the variety. It is a porcelain hardneck. It gives me scapes every spring and the bulbs will last the whole year until the next harvest is ready. It is an excellent keeper. I used to have other varieties, but over time I've come to only plant this one. When I came to this house I brought two varieties with me that did well at the last house, but German Extra Hardy seems to resist the diseases in my soil better, so it is the sole survivor.

I plant my garlic by laying out a grid that is 6" apart. I put them 4" deep and then cover them with an inch or two of compost. This year they got leaf mold instead since that is what I was sifting out of the compost. And I did remember to fertilize them. The mache that I forgot to add fertilizer to is not a big deal. It isn't a main crop in the garden (really the first time it has ever grown at all for me). But garlic I rely on and it tends to be a heavy feeder.

Today I finished off sifting the leaf mold which was a pressing chore as I needed the bin to collect fall leaves. I covered three more half beds with about an inch of leaf mold. I have three additional half beds that need to be done before winter. I have found that my compost piles freeze solid over the winter and don't thaw out as quickly in the spring as the beds do. So I always spread compost over the beds that will have spring crops. It just makes my life easier. I do have enough compost for this chore as I have some real compost I made earlier in the year. I'm guessing it will fill the beds that I need and maybe a bit more. The compost is pretty weedy though. It has tons of seed from dill, cilantro, jump-ups, and the like. Basically all the plants that I've let go to seed in the garden. I should have used this for one area I put leaf mold into. I want dill to come up there next year. I might have to seed it instead. Usually I just put the compost in the right spot and voila, instant herbs. Or a lot of weeding out of those herbs in the other beds.


  1. Good info! I tend to plant my garlic a little later, in the first week of November. Home grown garlic is the greatest! I do not feed mine very well, but I see from what you and some others have written that I need to get some good compost into my bed this year.

  2. Mine went in about a week ago. Then I top dressed with some compost. I put in 90 cloves this year, only the best from the year's harvest of 100 bulbs. The rest get stored whole or sliced thin on a mandoline and dehydrated. We grind up the slices in our old coffee grinder when we need garlic powder.

  3. My garlic is about a month away from harvest. The plants aren't looking great though - but I have pulled a couple from green garlic and the bulbs look to be developing OK. I think I over planted though - I still have at least 2 months supply left from last year and I planted more this time.

  4. I planted mine this weekend as well - and used your grid method and got 20% more garlic than last year in half the space!

  5. I planted my garlic last week. Partly based on your recommendation, I planted German Extra Hardy as well as Red Chesnok. The German X Hardy bulbs from Vermont Garlic were huge and averaged 6 cloves per bulb. The Red Chesnok bulbs were smaller with more cloves. From a half pound of each I got twice as many cloves from the Red Chesnok. I added compost and a little fertilizer to the bed before planting. I have wondered if using bone meal was a good idea for garlic, something I always add when planting flower bulbs.