Garlic Instead

Yesterday morning’s weather didn’t look promising for harvesting the last of the sweet potatoes, so I decided to tackle another major once-every-October chore instead.  I planted our garlic.

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Sometimes people will tell me that they’d like to start gardening but that they don’t have a green thumb, don’t have enough time, or just don’t know where to begin.  My advice is always to start with garlic.  It’s easy to plant, easy to grow, immune from pest and wildlife damage, easy to harvest, easy to store and delicious to eat.  I can’t think of a better way for a beginner to start gardening.

To plant garlic, just separate the cloves in the bulb and poke them into the ground about six inches apart, pointed end up.  Then cover with straw and you probably won’t need to do anything else with it until next June, when you’ll pull or dig up the bulbs and set them out to cure.

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Now is the best time to plant it.  The garlic will likely emerge before winter sets in, then will wait patiently for spring before resuming growth.

In mid-June, about 8 months after planting, it will be ready to harvest.

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16 comments on “Garlic Instead

  1. DM says:

    I planted garlic a week or so ago for the first time. Could not believe it, within 3 or 4 days it had already broke through the ground with little green spears.

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    • Bill says:

      I think it’s better when it does that. One year I planted it and it didn’t emerge till spring. I thought we’d lost it all, but it came up and did fine.

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  2. shoreacres says:

    You reminded me of something I’d forgotten. When I was teaching sailing, it often was useful, with people who’d never been around boats, to refer to the bow of the boat as the “pointy end” for a few days, until they started getting a grip on the terminology.

    Are you in the path of the eclipse this morning? It’s gorgeous here, although I’ve learned that a tripod would be a good addition to any attempts to photograph such an event. 🙂

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    • Bill says:

      I went out and had a look at the eclipse just before doing this post. It was grand. I didn’t bother taking a picture of it since my moon pictures never turn out.

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  3. nebraskadave says:

    Bill, I’ve never tried to grow garlic before. Personally, I use more onions to cook with than garlic. Garlic always fascinated me with planting in the fall and harvesting the next year. It’s the only garden plant that I know of that’s planted that way. I found out a couple years ago that the nurseries in my area do not sell any garden seeds or plants in the fall. Shrubs, bushes, and flower bulbs, yes but nothing for fall gardening. I have to plan ahead and buy extra seed in the Spring if I want a fall garden. Some day I’d like to begin fall gardening but it’s a rarity in my part of the country.

    I did get two of the raised beds at the Urban Ranch (my back yard) cleaned up and ready for Winter. Soon the rainwater catch watering system will be drained and put it away for the Winter months. Grass is beginning to go dormant and major leaf drop continues. I see the Winter slumber fast approaching for all the plants and trees.

    Have a great Garlic harvesting day.

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    • Bill says:

      We overwinter onions the same way. In the past I’ve always planted them in the spring but last year I tried starting some in the fall with the garlic and it greatly outperformed the spring-planted onions (and we had a very harsh winter). We overwinter kale and spinach too, but we usually harvest some of it before spring. With the onions and garlic we have to be much more patient.

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  4. Joanna says:

    That reminds me, must add that to the job list.

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    • Bill says:

      A good rule of thumb is to plant in on Columbus Day (or at least use that as a reminder). Of course that won’t be any help in Latvia. 🙂

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      • Joanna says:

        Nope don’t think so, I have no idea when Columbus day is 😀 . In the UK it was plant the shortest day of the year and harvest on the longest. I think basically the advice should be get it in the ground somewhere between October and December, but here preferably before you need a steel crowbar to make a hole to put it in

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  5. Dee Ready says:

    Dear Bill, thanks for the tip. I’m thinking I’ll plant a few cloves in a large plastic bucket that I can keep outside by the patio. Will that work do you think? Peace.

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  6. No Columbus Day here either :), but the goal around here is to have garlic planted by the end of October – our clayish soil locally just gets all mucky and miserable to work in after that. My dilemma this year is – where? Because it occupies its patch well into the summer, it can’t be where the tractor needs to go to till up the main garden, so it doesn’t fit my rotations very well. Last year it was in an old flower bed, which was fine, but I’ve since loaded up that area with all kinds of barn cleanings, so I don’t want to plant into it until next year. Can’t dither too much longer, though…Congrats on getting yours into the ground, and I agree – it’s ridiculously easy once you get going.

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    • Bill says:

      I’ve heard that garlic can be planted in any month ending with the letter “r.” I’ve planted in September, October and even on November 1. I don’t think I’d want to wait any longer than that.

      Garlic can be troublesome in our rotations too because of when it’s planted and harvested. We dedicate separate gardens to spring root crops and fall root crops. We treat garlic as a spring root crop (even though it’s planted in the fall and harvested in the summer). I have to remember to locate it in the garden so that it isn’t necessarily within the deer fence I’ll put up in the spring (since it doesn’t need one and I don’t want to waste that area) and I have to be careful not to broadcast the cover crop seed so that it ends up in the garlic area. But given how little work it requires once it’s planted, I’m willing to make these accommodations for it. 🙂

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  7. pattisj says:

    That does sound easy!

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