How to Grow Great Garlic

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Want to grow a great garlic crop? Plant now! Here are some helpful tips for growing garlic.

Garlic is one of those crops that just about everyone uses all the time, but not that many gardeners grow it, which is surprising, as it is usually super easy to grow! If you would like to grow garlic, now is the time to plant for a harvest next summer.

Garlic is typically the last crop to be planted in the fall in most climates. While you can plant garlic in late winter once the ground thaws, planting in the fall shortly after the first frost usually ensures larger and better bulbs.

For tips on which types to try in your garden, check out this Chart of Garlic Types.

Garlic likes fertile, well-drained soil with a pH near neutral. Here are some tips for growing a great garlic crop:

How to Plant Garlic

Choose a sunny site, and loosen the planting bed to at least 12 inches deep. Thoroughly mix in a 1-inch layer of mature compost. In acidic soil, also mix in a light dusting of wood ashes. Wait until just before planting to break bulbs into cloves. Poke the cloves into the ground 4 inches deep and 6 to 8 inches apart, with their pointed ends up. Cover the planted area with 3 to 5 inches of organic mulch, such as hay or shredded leaves.

Harvesting and Storing Garlic

From early summer to midsummer, watch plants closely and harvest when the soil is dry and about one-third of the leaves appear pale and withered. Use a digging fork to loosen the soil before pulling the plants. Handle the newly pulled bulbs delicately to avoid bruising them. Lay the whole plants out to dry in a warm, airy spot that is protected from rain and direct sun. After a week or so, brush off soil from the bulbs with your hands, and use pruning shears to clip roots to half an inch long. Wait another week before clipping off the stems of hardneck varieties or trimming and braiding softnecks into clusters. Do not remove the papery outer wrappers, as these inhibit sprouting and protect the cloves from rotting.

Storage life varies with variety and with growing and storage conditions…

Saving Garlic Bulbs for Planting

Many garlic varieties fine-tune their growth patterns to the climate in which they are grown, so planting cloves from bulbs you grew yourself can save money and also result in a strain that is especially well-suited to the conditions in your garden.

As you harvest and cure your crop, set aside the biggest and best bulbs as your “seed” stock…

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Garlic Pest and Disease Prevention Tips

Tiny onion thrips rasp pale grooves into garlic leaves, but they have many natural predators. Keep areas near garlic and onions mowed to reduce the weedy habitat thrips prefer. Monitor populations with sticky traps, and use a spinosad-based biological pesticide to control serious infestations.

Onion root maggots seldom infect garlic planted in soil where onion family crops have not been planted for two years, but the mobile adults may still lay eggs around the base of young plants. Where pest pressure is severe, dust the area around plants with diatomaceous earth in late spring, which is when the egg-laying females are most active.

Prevent fusarium and other soilborne root rot diseases by growing garlic in well-drained, fertile soil. Avoid injuring the roots when weeding, because diseases often enter plants through broken tissue.

Garlic Growing Tips

Experiment with types and varieties, because each reacts differently to weather and rainfall patterns….

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For more info, check out the full article at MotherEarthNews.com

 

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