Planning to Plant Garlic

A quick look at the calender tells me it is almost time for garlic planting at Happy Acres. I usually plant garlic here in late October or early November. The last few years I have grown half of our garlic in the main vegetable garden, and the other half in the kitchen garden. This year I decided I would grow all of it in the main garden. I like to rotate the crops so that the same vegetable families don’t grow in one spot year after year. This year I decided that the garlic would grow where the sweet potatoes grew earlier.

To get this area ready for garlic, I decided to make a couple of passes with the tiller to help level the ridge of soil I had made for the sweet potatoes. I also wanted to incorporate some of the straw and newspaper mulch down into the soil to add some organic matter. I did the tilling the day after I dug the sweet potatoes, on October 10th this year. The next step will be to spread a layer of compost and some complete organic fertilizer (like Espoma Garden-tone 3-4-4), then work that in and rake the soil level before planting.

One other thing I wanted to do this year was make a jig to help with spacing and planting the garlic. I envisioned something using dowels attached to a sheet of plywood. Rather than trying to reinvent the wheel, I did a quick search online for ideas. And what should I find but a great tutorial that Laura from The Modern Victory Garden had written a few years ago. Laura glued a piece of pegboard to a backing board of plywood, then glued in precut dowel pins at the desired spacing. This was exactly the sort of jig I was looking to make. Thanks Laura for writing this handy how-to article!

garlic planting jig

garlic planting jig

back of garlic planting jig

back of garlic planting jig

I had suitable pieces of pegboard and plywood already on hand, so all I needed to buy were some dowel pins and a couple of handles. I want to plant my garlic at a 6 inch by 8 inch spacing this year, so I spaced the dowels accordingly. I used 3/8 inch diameter dowels that were 2 inches long. The dowels will mark the planting holes when the jig is pressed into the soil. My pieces of pegboard and plywood were 2 feet by 4 feet, and I left them that size even though the jig will be a bit heavy. It only took a little over an hour of active time to put the jig together, and I’m happy with how it turned out.

closeup of dowels in jig

closeup of dowels in jig

To use the jig, you press it into the prepared soil and the dowels will make a hole that will mark where the cloves of garlic should be planted. That should speed up my garlic planting considerably. This year I am planting a little over 200 plants, so anything I can do to speed up the process will be appreciated. It will also make the spacing more precise.

garlic and planting jig

garlic and planting jig

One other thing I will be doing this week is getting ready for the first frost. The weather forecast is calling for frosts and possibly a freeze later this week. That means it is time to bring in tropical houseplants, and harvest whatever peppers and tomatoes are out in the garden. We also have to dig sweet potatoes at the Impact Community garden. So it looks like it will be a busy week here for sure!

my wife

my wife’s prize jade plant from our friend Ray

I hope you have enjoyed this update, and I’ll be back soon with more adventures here at Happy Acres.



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7 Responses to Planning to Plant Garlic

  1. Great tutorial on making a planting jig. Very clever! But I can’t imagine what you will do with 200 heads of garlic. Does this mean that you consume a whole head of garlic every two days?

    • Dave says:

      Great question Lou! First, figure you will use 10-15% of the crop for next year’s planting stock, depending on the variety and size of the individual cloves. In general, we use from 2-3 whole heads per week in cooking, so that amounts to 100-150 heads per year.

      Then figure I will pickle some, and slice some up for dehydrating. I will also give some of the dehydrated slices away. There will also be some that will shrivel up before we can use it, and I often dehydrate that. I love garlic!

  2. Norma Chang says:

    I remember reading Laura’s post, it is a great tutorial. 200 heads of garlic, you are going to have a lot of garlic scape in the spring. Do you also pull some of the young plants for use as garlic green?

  3. Mike R says:

    A few days ago I planted garlic. Since I live about a hundred miles north of you it sounds like the timing was about right. If garlic is planted too early does it not mature properly? I toyed with planting garlic in the bed where spinach is overwintered, which is covered by a plastic greenhouse in mid-winter. Is that a bad idea? This is my second year growing garlic.

    • Dave says:

      I’ve never tried covering the garlic. I think the risk of planting too early is that it can make a lot of top growth that gets winter killed. But then, I have a friend here in So. Indiana that planted hers last year in August, and it produced just fine. She couldn’t tell any difference from when she planted it in October!

  4. Daphne says:

    I planted my garlic yesterday. I figured I’d get it done while the weather was still nice. Usually I do it the last week of October so I’m a bit earlier than usual, but not too early.

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