This just in from my lunch break: I put in next summer's garlic crop. You can too! Here’s what you need:
- Digging tool
In most of North America, now’s the time to plant garlic and other bulbs. They will establish some roots before the ground freezes, then sleep all winter to emerge in spring.
What kind of garlic should I plant?
Obviously, you'll want to plant organic. Not only is it better for you and for the soil, but non-organic garlic is often treated with an anti-sprouting agent that will keep it from growing in the first place.
I recommend seeking out an heirloom variety, ideally a hardneck "true" garlic. Though it can be tempting to pick up elephant garlic for its huge bulbs, elephant garlic is actually more closely related to the onion, and can have trouble if you plant it too late in the fall. True garlic has smaller cloves, but they're much more potent. For my garlic patch, I picked a Chesnok Red that I picked up from a local permaculture nursery.
Where should I plant it?
Someplace it’ll have good sun, in well-draining soil. You don’t want your bulbs to rot.
If you live someplace that gets very cold with little snow cover, mulch it with straw after the first hard frost. Otherwise, it should survive the winter just fine.
How much should I plant?
Are you kidding? Garlic is delicious. Plant as much as you can. Bury one clove of garlic every foot or so (advice varies on this, but one foot seems a safe distance even for hungry bulbs). Each clove should divide into a new bulb, and will flower in early summer.
How do I plant it?
Dig a hole and put a clove of garlic in, pointy side up. For small cloves, put them about one inch deep -- that is, they should have an inch of dirt over their heads. Bigger bulbs like elephant garlic should go deeper, up to 3 inches.
After you’ve planted it, water it in by drenching the soil completely.
Now, you wait. Begin watering in the spring, and you'll harvest your garlic crop in the summer.
And that’s garlic, and that’s how I spent my lunch break! Speaking of which: Got a few cloves left over? Whip up a batch of organic bistro garlic fries.