It’s garlic planting season! In this week’s tip, we’ll cover a few more tips and tricks we use to get our garlic planted before the frost and cold winter weather come our way.
Like most plants, proper preparation is critical to a successful crop. For most of our garden beds, that means loosening the soil (with a broad fork or shovel), removing old plant debris/weeds (with a hoe or by hand) and amending the bed with worm castings or an organic fertilizer (we use Gaia 4-4-4 organic fertilizer).
Next, you want to select the cloves for planting. This means setting aside any cloves that are especially small, or are not in good condition. These will be great in your meals that week. You’ll also want to prepare the cloves the day of planting as they can dry out and lose their vigor if separated too early and left for several days/weeks before planting.
For larger beds that will be planted, we use a string or other planting guide to ensure proper distance, straight lines, and even spacing between plants. Using a trowel, we thrust it straight down into our planting spot, push/pull a block of soil to the side to create a narrow opening for us to plant our garlic clove. This method works quickly (assuming you loosened and prepared the bed before planting), ensures proper depth and spacing, and goes a long way to ensure a good harvest next year.
Finally, cover up the beds with your mulch. We like to use straw, though shredded leaves (you did save your leaves like we suggested in tip #234 right?) and newspaper can also be used as an alternative.
Garlic is typically planted in mid-October, so that it can grow a little bit (but not too much!) before going dormant for the winter. Depending on how mild our fall is, it can be planted all the way into November. If you find your garlic gets growing more than 4 inches before the end of the season, apply a thicker mulch to provide additional insulation and protection for the garlic over the winter.