Garlic Growing Tips

Tips for growing and harvesting garlic in your garden!

Planting and Tending Garlic

Garlic can be planted in the fall or in the spring. Fall planting allows the garlic to develop roots and feed before the winter extending the growing season to produce larger bulbs. When planting separate the bulbs into individual cloves and plant the cloves, top side up, four to six inches apart so they will have room to grow. It is best to rotate your crops and not plant them in the same place again for three to four years. Garlic can be grown in the ground, raised beds and even regularly watered pots as long as they are in a sunny area.

A well balanced soil that is loose enough for the bulb to grow and expand is best for planting garlic. Ordinary garden soil with a little manure added before planting is great. If you have heavy clay soil, consider building a raised bed and importing well-draining soil for your garlic. In containers an outdoor potting mix is best. If planting in the fall it is recommended to mulch your garlic with straw in order to prevent early sprouting during winter warm spells and keep the ground an even temperature to increase hardiness and winter root growth.

Fertilize in the early spring to give it a boost just as the foliage gets a good start.

Garlic does not like to dry out completely during its growing season, preferring slightly moist but not wet soil. Make sure it gets regular watering once it gets summer heat.

If you have hardneck garlic a long curly stem of a flower bud called a scape will appear in mid-spring and should be snapped off to promote larger bulb growth. They are excellent to eat either in stir fry or pickled!

Harvesting and Storing

The best time to harvest garlic is when the lower leaves have died down and only the top few leaves are still green. Once the garlic starts losing its leaves discontinue watering and let the soil dry out for about a week to make harvesting easier. Use a shovel or garden fork and slip the blade down beside them, working it underneath to gently pry them up from the bottom.

Garlic can be eaten fresh but has a very different flavor. In order to be stored garlic needs to be cured. Allow your harvested garlic to dry (stems still attached dirt and all) in a cool, well-ventilated area out of direct sunlight for 2 to 3 weeks. Then the dirt can be rubbed off with the outer layer of papery skin and stems trimmed to half an inch above the bulb. Keep aside the largest healthiest bulbs for next year’s planting and store all the bulbs in a dry, cool, well-ventilated space.

Types of Garlic

Softneck garlic is generally milder flavoured and can be stored longer (6-12 months). It is commonly grown in a mild winter climate and planted either in the fall or early spring.

Hardneck garlic is more winter hardy and is usually grown areas that have very long, cold winters. It can be identified by a rigid stem visable in the centre of the bulb. Hardnecks are usually planted in the fall, often have stronger, spicier flavor and are.

Regular White – Common type of white garlic, has a mild flavor.
Elephant – Has large cloves but very mild flavor
Bogatyr – A hardneck variety known for its hot, strong taste. Excellent for roasting
Duganski – Fiery flavor that mellows when cooked. Sores well.
German Hardneck – A very nice strain for our northern climates. Great for roasting due to large cloves.
Legacy – A rocambole hardneck garlic that produces 4 to 6 very large cloves in a bulb. Has a strong, full flavour.
Metechi – Spicy hot flavor, said to grow like a weed and store like a rock!
Mexican Purple – This garlic has a hot flavour when raw, but becomes milder when baked
Music – Music is large beautiful and a well-formed porcelain garlic. Its flavor is very rich and musky, strong and robust and sticks around for a while.
Red – The standard of excellent flavor in rocambole hardneck garlic. This is a delightfully mild, full flavored, productive garlic that store very well, present a nice appearance and has an excellent raw flavor.
Russian Red – A rocambole hardneck garlic with a rich, musky flavour and is very hot when eaten raw. Grows great in the northwest.
Siberian – Large bulbs, spicy flavour that becomes milder with storage. Great grower, excellently stored.

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