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Growing Garlic

December 9, 2016 Back to Picks >

If you love cooking, then you�ll want to grow garlic. This versatile seasoning can be easily grown in your garden if you plant it now.Plant garlic in the fall, about 6 weeks before the first frost in your area and while the soil temperature is still above 85 degrees. Garlic roots like to go deep so plant it in a loose, well-drained soil. To avoid soil-borne disease or pests, don�t put garlic in the same spot where it or other members of the Allium family (onions, shallots, leeks) have grown in the last two years.

Just before planting, separate the cloves by �cracking� the head. If you wait more than 24 hours after cracking the cloves will begin to lose viability. Plant cloves, pointed end up, about two inches deep and 4-5 inches apart. Undersized cloves should be culled from planting as they will produce puny heads.

Once the cloves are planted, keep the soil moist but not soggy until the tips break the surface. Then water as you would any other garden vegetables � at least an inch a week. During the growing season fertilize to encourage head formation. Avoid high nitrogen fertilizers because they will encourage leaf production at the expense of the head. Stay on top of the weeding in your garlic plot. Garlic has shallow roots and does not grow dense enough to shade the soil, making it easy for weeds to crowd it out.

Garlic needs 8-9 months to mature. In late spring after the stalks are at full height ( 2-3 feet for most varieties), stop watering. During the last few weeks of growth the bulbs are segmenting and the outer wrapper is drying out. Too much water during this critical time can encourage mold and will shorten the life of harvested heads.

Garlic doesn�t require much to grow: a little space, a little sun, and a little patience. Your reward will be all that marvelous flavor.