My project for #hackfriday was to plant some garlic. Now, conventional wisdom would say that late November is too late in the year to put garlic in the ground, but I’ve been planting garlic on the day after Thanksgiving for the past few years. Each time I’ve been rewarded with a great harvest in the late spring, maybe conventional wisdom is wrong.
The first thing to do is to break up the garlic into individual cloves (as in the photo above). You’ll notice that these cloves have green sprouts. While it’s not critical to have these sprouts (in my experience, some varieties of garlic don’t develop sprouts until they’re in the ground), they can be helpful to the plant in getting nutrients from the soil immediately after planting. While you can’t make the garlic sprout green on short notice, you can help it to acclimate more quickly by soaking it in a mixture of water and baking soda (1 qt water + 1 tbsp soda) for a couple of hours.
The next step is a clear a bit of land in your garden. Garlic is, for the most part, a hardy plant that will take care of itself. However, because it is a bulb, it requires well-drained soil to prevent rotting. An 8-12″ raised bed of topsoil works quite well. Clear any weeds out of your little plot and till the soil a bit to aerate it.
Next, you’ll want to dig some holes. Garlic should be planted 6-10″ apart. Use a shovel handle or large dowel to make the holes.
Lay out your cloves of garlic and then drop them in! The green sprouts (if any) should point upwards and the flat root section should point down.
Rake over the whole bed to fill in the holes and aerate the soil some more. If the soil is particularly dry, water the ground a little bit. If you expect a cold winter, cover the ground with straw or gardening paper. In the case of paper, you should remove it in early March when the weather gets warmer.
And that’s it!
Depending on the local climate, and the weather for the next 6-7 months, your garlic should be ready to pick by mid-June!
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It is traditional in our region to plant garlic in late November (southwest France).
If using supermarket garlic instead of nursery stock for planting, it is important for those cloves to be sprouting before planting as to determined that the heads were not treated to prevent sprouting. Garlic cloves also can be planted in pots indoors now for their greens which are similar to chives or green onions.
I have found that if you live in very cold areas, or if your soil is heavy then planting cloves into trays during the winter also works well. Garlic prefers a cold period in order to grow successfully so the tray can be put in a sheltered position outdoors. Garlic grown in this manner can be planted out into its final position during the springtime when the cloves have sprouted.