I did it!

Every spring I lament the fact that I didn't plant any garlic in the fall. I love garlic, and it's dead-simple to grow from what I've read, and I grow lots of other herbs and vegetables, but garlic is something I've never managed. Garlic chives, yes (loads and loads of it). Actual garlic? No.

This is probably because of the planting time. It's the time of year that I'm winding things up and getting everything ready for winter, and I don't think about planting, or I think about it after it's much too late.


Last year I tried planting some garlic cloves in the spring, hoping that would work -- it didn't. Not surprising, but encouraging that I was thinking about garlic and actually did something about it. Seeing that little plot of ground staying pretty much bare all summer long kept reminding me about it too: "gotta plant the garlic this fall, gotta plant the garlic this fall..."

So for the last few days I've been looking for local sources of garlic to plant...

I couldn't find any.

The first year that I'm ready and willing to plant garlic at the right time, and I can't find any to plant? That's just wrong. Very frustrating.

Luckily my neighbor is more prepared, organized, and conscientious than I am when it comes to garden edibles, and had several cloves left over from his planting last year. He was happy to share some with me:

So yesterday after a day of digging some new planting beds and working on the pond (both posts to come this week), I planted the garlic. In the late fall/early winter like it's supposed to be. For the first time ever. (I know I keep saying that, but it seems like a big accomplishment for me.)

I was expecting to need to add some compost to the soil and had some ready for this, but the soil was remarkable loose and friable. In fact it may be some of the best soil in my yard right now -- I guess the work I did on it last year paid off. I did notice that there were several mole tunnels underneath this bed, but that's not too surprising as moles burrow around back here all year long. I stamped the soil down to collapse the tunnels and then dug it back up to loosen it again for planting.

I should point out that it was getting pretty dark outside at this time, so I wasn't able to take any photos. Images of the planting process would be pretty boring though, so you're not missing anything.

The one interesting thing that happened: I texted my neighbor asking how deep to plant. His answer of "2 at bottom" was a bit confusing, but he clarified that as "2 inch deep hole". Great! My trowel has depth markings on it, so I'll just use those...

Um, what is this? Millimeters maybe? It's got to be that (25mm is 1"). Turns out that it was too dark to really use these markings anyway, so I just used my best judgement. Some of them may have been planted too deeply, so hopefully planting depth isn't critical.

So there you have it: my first ever correctly-timed garlic planting! Updates when warranted.


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Steve Lau  – (November 20, 2011 at 10:07 AM)  

I really doubt planting depth is that critical because I've seen them growing full size with the bulb exposed. As long as they are 6 inches apart from each other they should reach full size.

This year I'm planting some hardnecks as well which are supposed to produce larger but fewer cloves and have a stronger taste.

Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (November 20, 2011 at 12:14 PM)  

Alan, we've often planted garlic from store-bought heads with good success.

anne  – (November 20, 2011 at 1:01 PM)  

In colder climates where the ground freezes for weeks, hardneck is the kind to grow. Our local grocery stores usually carry the softneck variety. Since your climate is temperate, store-bought garlic will work.

I don't really bother with exact depth either and have never had a problem - I just push them down into the soil - if I had to guess, between 2 or 3 inches. anne

anne  – (November 20, 2011 at 3:15 PM)  

I meant Gerhard's climate is temperate....

Christine  – (November 20, 2011 at 3:52 PM)  

so you taught me something again today - I didn't know garlic is supposed to be planted in autumn, no wonder mine never came up. Now I know, I hope I remember in autumn, we eat lots and I'd love to grow my own!

Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (November 20, 2011 at 6:49 PM)  

Anne, I didn't know about softneck vs. hardneck. Yet another thing learned :-).

Andrea  – (November 20, 2011 at 6:58 PM)  

I smiled with you, garlic is a very easy plant to grow. I just wonder if the temperature will allow them to develop and produce cloves. It is a hot tropical plant.

Anne McCormack  – (November 20, 2011 at 8:27 PM)  

Garlic is something I've been wanting to try too. I'm inspired by your post & comments!

Alan  – (November 20, 2011 at 9:16 PM)  

I've heard that grocery store garlic is sprayed with some sort of growth inhibitor to keep them from sprouting. Not sure if that's true anymore or universally.

Also, I'd like to try a hardneck type, but I'll wait until next year to see how this works. Since my neighbor got plenty of nice heads last year I'm expecting success.

Thanks for all of the comments!

Kathy G  – (November 20, 2011 at 9:26 PM)  

I've grown garlic several times over the years, starting with heads from one of the local grocery stores. Never had a problem with it not sprouting

anne  – (November 20, 2011 at 9:30 PM)  

I learned the hardneck vs softneck issue myself from neighbors who have since moved but were amazing gardeners. They gave me some garlic to start with years ago - before then I knew nothing about growing garlic.

Steve Lau  – (November 20, 2011 at 9:45 PM)  

I ordered a lb of hardnecks for $11 off eBay and can't wait to get them in as I have lots of garden beds waiting to be planted.

The only issue I've ever had with garlic is whenever I try planting them very close like 3-4 inches apart, they tend to turn pale and struggle for nitrogen so I have to apply a slow release pelleted fertilizer to green them up so I can have decent sized bulbs. Perhaps I need a nitrogen fixing bacteria or something to fix that problem so I don't have to use that much fertilizer.

Garden Awnings  – (November 23, 2011 at 3:35 AM)  

Never knew there was so much involved with planting garlic, think I may start planting them as it would add to my ever growing vegetable patch!

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