What You Need to Know About Growing Garlic
Garlic is a long season crop, taking 90-270 days to mature from sowing to harvest! To achieve large garlic bulbs, the plant requires a period of vernalization, or cold treatment, which is why bulbing garlic only grows well in regions that have winters with over 40 days of temps below 50F and explains why we plant garlic in the FALL in these regions!
For these cold winter regions, October is a great time for planting garlic! Garlic is a special plant in that it requires a period of cold treatment or “vernalization” to initiate bulbing. Garlic is a long season crop and will remain in place where planted from October until mid-summer of the following season when its harvested.
Here are a few tips to help you get to know this delicious kitchen staple:
- Garlic is best planted in October in our climate. This allows for some root growth in the warmer fall temps to help the plant establish, but not enough time for green shoots to emerge before freezing temps come
- There are two major distinctions when selecting garlic: Hardneck, which is generally a bigger bulb and produces scapes, or softneck, which may store in your cupboard for longer. We like to use hardneck varieties because they produce scapes.
- Prepare the ground you plant garlic into: Garlic likes LOOSE soil that is WELL amended with compost. Compacted soil will make it difficult for the bulbs to form.
- Don’t forget to winter water your garlic! Water your garlic patch (even though you can’t see anything) about 1x/month throughout the winter! Increase watering when you see green sprouts emerging from your patch in the Spring.
- Expect to harvest around July. Your garlic patch will have tall green leaves that will start to flop over and yellow. When 75% of the leaves are yellow or flopped, it’s time to dig up and cure those bulbs!
ADD THESE GARDENING TERMS TO YOUR VOCAB!
Long season crop:
There is no real definition of what a long season crop is.
But I use this term to define a crop that you can only get one harvest of per calendar year of.
This is generally any crop needing 90+ days or so from sowing to maturity. Examples of long season crops are bulbing onions, garlic, tomatoes, and artichoke.
Exposure of seeds or plants to a period of cold temperatures to promote bulbing or flowering.
A few plants that require a vernalization period to produce are garlic, daffodils, peach trees, and winter barley.