It’s garlic planting time here again in Southern Indiana. I generally wait until late October or early November to plant ours, and yesterday was a great day to get it done, before the rain moved in today.
I wait until just before planting to break apart the heads of garlic into individual cloves, also known as ‘cracking’ or ‘popping’ the garlic. I don’t peel the skin, or soak the cloves before planting. I just pick some of the bigger cloves that are solid and firm and free of blemishes. Waiting until just before planting helps keep the garlic from drying out.
Later I’ll plant some of the smaller cloves of garlic in containers, to be harvested as green (immature) garlic. If you have the room in your garden, you can grow green garlic by planting the cloves closer together than usual and then harvesting in spring while the plants are still green. Space is always at a premium here so I just plant some in containers for the greenhouse.
I had prepared the planting beds a couple of weeks ago, working in a healthy amount of compost and some bone meal. This year I am growing about half of the garlic in the main garden area, while the rest is in one of the ‘lasagna’ beds nearer the house and greenhouse. Neither area has ever been planted in garlic or any other member of the allium family. I like to rotate the different vegetable families in all our garden plots to minimize disease and insect problems.
The last few years I have been planting the garlic six inches apart in all directions, in a grid. This year I wanted to experiment with a wider spacing, so I planted the garlic in the lasagna bed eight inches apart. I stuck with my usual six inch spacing for the garlic in the main garden plot. I planted all the garlic cloves about 3 inches deep, pointed end up, using a narrow trowel to dig the planting holes.
I’ll come back in a few weeks, before the ground freezes, and mulch the garlic with a layer of straw. The mulch will help keep down weeds, conserve moisture and keep soil temperatures from fluctuating so much this winter. And that’s all there is to do until spring when I’ll pull back some of the straw and give the garlic a little side dressing of fertilizer. With any luck, we’ll have plenty of garlic to dig along about July of next year.