Planting garlic is something we took on for the first time last year and when you see how our garlic bed has grown it will tell you how much we enjoyed it! It is easily five times the size as it was last year and this was me showing some restraint.
So, how do you plant garlic? Its super easy and a great project to do with kids (because you can’t screw it up!).
Where to plant garlic
Garlic is best planted in a very sunny location. Because it is so carefree, you can tuck it in just about anywhere and don’t have to worry about access to water. Last year I chose this tiny space between our asparagus and raspberries. As you can see, it was pretty small and only about 2 feet by 1 foot in size.
When to plant garlic
Plant garlic anytime from October through November, heck, if it is a warm fall go ahead and plant in December too. The beautiful thing about garlic is that you plant it in the fall, forget about it all winter, and then in the spring it pops up and starts doing its thing.
Where to buy garlic to plant
I think the best place to buy garlic is from your local farmer’s market. In northern climates, like Iowa, we grow hardneck garlic for the best results. There are many varieties available, but to be honest, I have no idea what I have and that is just fine with me. I kept the largest cloves from our harvest this summer to plant and then I bought some at the farmer’s market this fall too. I am by no means a garlic aficionado so this works just fine for me.
What is hardneck garlic?
As a beginning garlic grower, this was one of my earliest questions. I think the best way to explain is to look at a photo.
See that stem like thing in the middle of the garlic bulb? That is what makes it a “hardneck garlic” and good for growing in cold climates. The cloves peel off right from this piece and are easy to separate for planting. I have found that hard neck garlic tends to have large, but fewer cloves per bulb than the garlic bought at a store. I would plan to only get 4-5 cloves per bulb of hardneck garlic.
The area where I decided to plant this year was previously grass, so I used a tiller to break it up and prep the soil. I decided to use landscape fabric on the outside of the bed to help keep the grass from creeping in. I tried to space cloves 4 to 6 inches apart in a sort of grid pattern. With my son helping me, this was a best effort sort of spacing. Plant garlic about 4 inches deep; a dibble is perfect for this type of planting. In our system my son made the hole and then I dropped the clove in behind.
Once we were done planting garlic in the bed I covered with a thick layer of mulch. The mulch is two fold for us, it helps insulate for the winter and keeps weeds down in the spring.
Growing and planting garlic is extremely rewarding– especially for the small amount of effort it takes to do! Its not too late to get some garlic planted in your garden this fall.