The autumn season has finally arrived! ONE OF MY FAVORITES! It’s a lovely way to end the gardening season, with the crisp fall temps, changing leaves, and the scent in the air. Not to mention everything flavored with pumpkin spice- ha! With summer and fall gardens finishing off their last bit of bounty before winter sets in, there is one plant you should plant in your garden this fall in order to reap the benefits next year. That’s a garlic plant! If you’ve never grown garlic before but enjoy adding it to your dishes, I recommend planting some in your garden. You’ll thank me later when you’re digging it up and getting to enjoy the delightful smell of garlic for the rest of the time.
Garlic is a simple plant to grow that takes up very little area in the garden. Garlic is grown from cloves that have been broken off of a whole bulb. In the ground, each clove will multiply, generating a new bulb with 5-10 cloves. Garlic is delicious when roasted or used as a seasoning in a variety of dishes.
Where to plant:
Garlic should be planted in a location that has not previously been utilized for garlic or other onion-related plants. Garlic should not be planted in areas where water can pool around the roots, causing them to rot or become infected. Garlic should be planted in a fertile, well-drained soil.
How to plant:
Plant cloves in a sunny spot with rich, well-drained soil around mid-autumn. Set the cloves in rows 1-1/2 to 2′ apart, root side down, and cover with 1-2″ of fine soil. For winter protection, lay down 6″ of mulch. At Linwood, we utilize straw as a mulch.
When to harvest:
When the majority of the leaves have turned brown, it’s time to harvest garlic. Depending on your environment, this normally happens between mid-July and early August. You can now dig up the bulbs, being cautious not to injure them. If the bulbs are kept in the ground for an extended period of time, they may separate and store poorly. Place the garlic plants in a shady, well-ventilated place to dry for 2 or 3 weeks. At Linwood, we dried our garlic in a barn. After 2-3 weeks tops can be cut off 1-2″ above garlic bulbs, or braided into threads. Garlic strings should be hung and loose bulbs should be kept in baskets in a dry, cold, and airy environment.
Remember to save some of your garlic bulbs for next year’s planting!