Garlic is planted in October, sets roots before freeze-up, rests over the winter, resumes growth the following April and is harvested in July.
- Pick a location with good soil, drainage, full sun and proximity to water for irrigation. The plot should provide for space rotation, as garlic should not return to the same bed where any allium grew in the last three years.
- Rich soil, high in organic matter and full of microorganisms is the key to organic garlic production. To build up your soil, use liberal amounts of organic matter (compost or composted animal manure).
- Take the bulbs and carefully divide them into their separate cloves.
- Plant your cloves pointy end up in rows at least 12 inches apart, and 4-5 inches deep. Cover with at least 4 inches of soil cover.
- Garlic should be mulched once the ground is frozen – spread 4-6 inches of clean straw to protect from winter kill.
- Once the garlic spears poke through the much, move it away carefully to enable faster thawing and growth.
- Inspect your garlic patch regularly – pull weeds and diseased garlic plants. Garlic needs about one inch of water per week. Also check for leek moth – remove eggs from the leaves and cut scapes affected by the moth.
- You can fertilize your garlic early in the growing season by watering it with manure tea or fish foliar spray.
- Around mid-June, you need to harvest the scapes – when the scapes curl, snap them off. Scapes are delicious and can be refrigerated in plastic bags for about 3 months.
- When the bottom 3 or 4 leaves are dead and the top 5 or 6 are still green, its time to lift the bulbs. If you’re not sure, dig a bulb or two and check. A mature bulb is fully swelled, well sized and has some partially decomposed wrappers. Pick a dry day for harvesting and handle your bulbs with care so as to not bruise them, which can cause early decay.
- Brush the dirt off gently. Hang your garlic in bundles or place on mesh rack in an airy, well ventilated place and away from direct sunlight (carport, shed, etc.…). It needs to cure for at least 2 weeks (we cure ours for 4 weeks).
When your garlic is well cured, remove stem and roots, and store for the winter at room temperature (around 18-21 degrees C) in a dry environment. Your garlic should keep for at least 6 to 8 months depending on the variety.
- For more detailed information: garlicnews.ca