How To Plant Garlic This Fall – 9 Simple Secrets To Grow Great Garlic!

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When it comes to planting garlic in the fall, a few simple tips will go a long way toward growing an incredible crop that is ready to harvest early next summer.

Garlic is one of our favorite crops of all to grow. In fact, we planted it in the fall in our very first garden some 11 years ago – and have never missed a year planting it since!

But even better, we continue to re-plant the same line of seed from those very first bulbs we pushed into the earth back in 2010. Not only is garlic easy to grow, but it gets better with each passing year as you select the best bulbs to replant from your harvest.

And it is certainly good that it grows so well because we use it in just about everything! From salsa and pasta sauce to homemade garlic bread and countless other dishes, we use our homegrown garlic in something nearly every day.

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How to Plant Garlic In The Fall

The Ease of Growing Garlic

So what does it take to grow a great crop of garlic? Actually, that may be the best part of all. Garlic is one of the easiest crops to plant and grow in the garden. It naturally repels most pests and requires little maintenance. It also rarely needs watering or fertilizing.

With that in mind, here is a look at how to plant your own incredible crop this fall, including a short video tutorial near the end as well.

Planting Garlic – The Secrets To Growing A Great Crop

The best time to plant hard-neck garlic in the Midwest and Northern states is in the early fall. Here in Ohio, we always plant our crop within the first few weeks of September.

That allows a month or two of cool weather growth for it to become established. It then goes dormant for the winter and comes back to life in the spring. It is then usually ready for harvesting by late June or the first week of July.

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Preparing The Garlic Seed For Planting – Soaking The Seed.

Every single clove of a garlic bulb is an individual seed. Once planted, it will then grow into a full bulb.

We select the largest of the bulbs that we harvest in June to become our “seed” in the fall. Quite simply, the larger the clove, the bigger the mature bulbs will be when you harvest. We grow a variety of garlic called Siberian hard neck. Not only does it grow well, but it is also excellent for overwinter storage. Product Link: Siberian Hardneck Garlic Cloves

To prepare the cloves for planting, separate each clove carefully. Always be sure to keep as much of the papery skin intact as possible. The skin serves as a protective layer for the garlic and keeps it from rotting until it sprouts.

A Little Secret – Pre-Soaking The Bulbs

To help promote sprouting and health, soak your bulbs overnight before planting. Fill a quart jar with water and add in a teaspoon of baking soda. Stir and then drop in the cloves to let them soak.

This soaking not only helps the garlic sprout but also helps prevent ground rot. Fall can be a wet time in many areas of the country, and a little extra protection against overly wet soils can go a long way for garlic.

Preparing The Soil

Like most vegetables, garlic grows best in fertile, loose soil. Prior to planting, work in generous amounts of compost to help amend the soil.

Compost is the perfect partner for growing garlic. Not only will it help energize the soil with nutrients, but it also helps to loosen the dirt to allow for good bulb growth. And just like with all root crops, loose soil can make a big difference between full-sized produce, or stunted vegetables.

How To Plant Garlic

Garlic can be planted in traditional rows, raised beds, or raised rows. The key is spacing. Bulbs should be spaced 4″ apart within rows and 4″ between rows.

Begin by digging a trench 3 to 4 inches deep. Fill the bottom of the trench with about an inch of compost. As you plant, push each bulb gently down into the compost layer.

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We then add in a teaspoon of worm castings around every bulb as we plant. It provides a great source of ready-to-use nutrients for the bulb. Ever since doing this a few years back, our bulbs have been simply amazing! It really is a great little secret to better bulb production.

Plant Up

When planting garlic, make sure to keep the pointy end of each garlic clove up, and the flat end down. The pointed tip is the sprouting end and will allow for quick sprouting through the soil.

Finish by covering up the cloves with the remaining soil. Do not press the soil firmly, simply cover by spreading the soil to fill the entire trench level with the surrounding soil.

We place a light 1″ covering of straw over our crop right after it is planted. This protects the ground from weeds and seeds blowing in but still allows the garlic to sprout. Once you have put on your light coat of mulch, water the crop in to help the bulbs and mulch settle in.

Mulching For Weed Control & Winter Protection 

Once the crop has sprouted in the fall, we add a few more inches of additional straw mulch to help protect the crop through winter. You can also use shredded leaves as well, but whatever you do, mulch the crop!

One of the biggest secrets to growing mulch is to keep it from competing with weeds. Weeds compete for nutrients, and a weedy patch will keep yields of your garlic lower, and the bulbs you harvest smaller.

Garlic is a fairly drought-resistant crop. Normal rainfall will usually keep it growing well. If you do experience extremely dry conditions for more than 10 to 14 days in the fall, water the crop to help it along.

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