Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Planting garlic in the fall

Garlic is a member of the allium family, which includes leeks, shallots and onions. There many different varieties of garlic, all of which fall into three general categories: Softneck, Hardneck and Elephant. Softneck garlic is the kind you will generally find in the grocery store. Softneck garlic is easy to grow and have a flexible stalk which can be braided. Hardneck garlics also have a stalk –called a scape- which coils at the top. If left to mature, hardnecks will produce a flower which is actually a number of small bubils, or tiny bulbs, which are edible. Hardnecks dry to a hard stem, hence the name. Hardneck garlic includes Deerfield Purple, Duganski and Spanish Roja. Elephant garlic is the largest garlic. It is also the mildest and sweetest. It is easy to peel and has a long shelf life. Garlic is typically planted in late September and early October. Start with a good, quality bulb. Avoid using garlic purchased in grocery stores as it is often treated with sprout inhibitors, disrupting the growth cycle.
Break up the bulb into individual cloves.
This called “cracking”.
Each clove will produce its own plant, containing 6-8 cloves per bulb.
Elephant garlic is planted as a whole clove.
Garlic likes sun and well-drained soils, so incorporate a good soil amendment such as Sheep, Peat and Compost into your planting.
 Add some organic fertilizer now, to feed the bulb as it begins to develop roots. Garlic is a very friendly plant and grows well planted with other flowers and vegetables in the garden as well as in the perennial bed.
Plant each clove about 2” deep, pointy end up, spaced about 6” apart, then cover with soil.
This is a good time to add a marker so you’ll remember what you planted next spring. Like other spring flowering bulbs, garlic planted now will set roots and start to grow. As the soil temperature cools down, growth stops. When the soil temperature warms up in spring, the bulb begins its growth cycle. Garlic can be mulched in early winter, after the ground freezes. The mulch will hold in moisture and keep the ground stable.  Garlic planted now will generally be ready for harvest early in July.


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