How To Plant Garlic

We have been growing garlic since day one in our garden. We have had great success with it and I believe that most home gardeners will find it a worthwhile pursuit.

The first thing that you want to do, as with all your crops, is prepare the soil. Remember that you are not necessarily feeding your plants but the soil itself. Healthy soil equals healthy plants. We use green compost which is a mixture of kitchen scraps such as veggie and fruit leftovers and any number of plant materials from our lawn that have been in the compost bin for months on end. We also have a rabbit and she graciously adds endless amounts of manure to our soil as well.

I admittedly jump the gun on occasion and plant in early October but really in my neck of the woods I should be waiting until at least November to plant my cloves. You want to plant your individual cloves with the “hard” side down in the soil. Plant them 4 to 8 inches apart and cover them with soil. The thing to keep in mind is that the closer together they are the smaller the overall heads tend to be upon harvest but that is just a matter of preference.
After you have planted the garlic clove 3 inches deep you will want to cover your bed. We use hay. It helps protect the cloves and eventually helps add organic matter to the soil which in turn helps it retain water and allows the roots to breath.
There are two main types of garlic, hard neck and soft neck. Hard neck garlic tends to have a large number of cloves around a central stem. They have a much sharper taste and are a bit easier to peel. Soft neck on the other hand has small cloves that tend be layered and they are a bit more difficult to peel. The flavor is rather mild as well. One thing that is kind of cool about soft neck garlic is the ability to tie the necks of multiple plants together and create a garlic braid which is a visibly appealing method of storage.

Garlic is believed to play a role in preventing prostate and colon cancer. Allicin, which is found in garlic, helps lower blood pressure. It is a good source of vitamin B6 and helps boost the immune system also.  

If you plant your garlic in fall, usually two weeks before the first frost, you will be able to harvest your heads mid-summer.   

Tobias Whitaker blogs for Mother Earth News and Grit Magazine. Click on the Mother Earth News logo at the bottom of the page for all of his post. You can also find him on Facebook at Seed To Harvest: Bossy Hen Homestead which is a central location for his homesteading blogs and his homeschooling blog, A Mile In Her Shoes: Tales Of A Stay-At Home Dad found here  


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