Garlic Planting Time

It’s garlic planting time here again in Southern Indiana. I generally wait until late October or early November to plant ours, and yesterday was a great day to get it done, before the rain moved in today.

I wait until just before planting to break apart the heads of garlic into individual cloves, also known as ‘cracking’ or ‘popping’ the garlic. I don’t peel the skin, or soak the cloves before planting. I just pick some of the bigger cloves that are solid and firm and free of blemishes. Waiting until just before planting helps keep the garlic from drying out.

garlic ready for planting (click on any image to enlarge)

Later I’ll plant some of the smaller cloves of garlic in containers, to be harvested as green (immature) garlic.  If you have the room in your garden, you can grow green garlic by planting the cloves closer together than usual and then harvesting in spring while the plants are still green. Space is always at a premium here so I just plant some in containers for the greenhouse.

future home of garlic

I had prepared the planting beds a couple of weeks ago, working in a healthy amount of compost and some bone meal. This year I am growing about half of the garlic in the main garden area, while the rest is in one of the ‘lasagna’ beds nearer the house and greenhouse. Neither area has ever been planted in garlic or any other member of the allium family. I like to rotate the different vegetable families in all our garden plots to minimize disease and insect problems.

garlic in the planting hole

The last few years I have been planting the garlic six inches apart in all directions, in a grid.  This year I wanted to experiment with a wider spacing, so I planted the garlic in the lasagna bed eight inches apart. I stuck with my usual six inch spacing for the garlic in the main garden plot. I planted all the garlic cloves about 3 inches deep, pointed end up, using a narrow trowel to dig the planting holes.

garlic planting

I’ll come  back in a few weeks, before the ground freezes, and mulch the garlic with a layer of straw. The mulch will help keep down weeds, conserve moisture and keep soil temperatures from fluctuating so much this winter. And that’s all there is to do until spring when I’ll pull back some of the straw and give the garlic a little side dressing of fertilizer. With any luck, we’ll have plenty of garlic to dig along about July of next year.

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8 Responses to Garlic Planting Time

  1. Ginny says:

    You’ve inspired me! I’m going to plant some garlic today!

  2. Mike says:

    Looks like you have some nice varieties, may they overwinter and grow well for you.

  3. Prairie Cat says:

    Looks similar to my garlic planting experience a few days ago! Be sure to update about the spacing… I was wondering that myself as I measured out 6 inches between each clove.

  4. I’m curious, why did you opt to try wider spacing? Are you hoping for larger bulbs, or to improve air circulation between plants? I did 4 inch spacing last year. Our early crop was great, but our late crop did get a little rust on the leaves after a warm late spring rain. I’m considering spacing a little wider this year for that reason. Now I just need to start cracking my 3lbs of garlic cloves, and get planting!

    • Dave says:

      Disease hasn’t been a problem here, yet. I’m hoping for bigger yields, and for easier weed control. It’s tough for me to get in between the plants with a 6 inch spacing. Even if yields are higher, I’ll still have to see if the yields outweigh the reduced planting density.

  5. Robin says:

    So, how many varieties did you plant? I have never added bone meal to my garlic bed, just compost. Is it helpful??

    • Dave says:

      Robin, the bone meal I use is 4-12-0 analysis, so it gives the garlic some slow release nitrogen and phosphorus, plus it tends to raise the pH a little. Our soil is a fine silt, which means it is a little lean on nutrients, plus my last soil test showed it was low on phosphorus. I’ll top/side dress with blood meal in spring to give it additional nitrogen then.

  6. Liz says:

    I’ll be interested to see if there is any difference in the crop spaced further apart. I grow my garlic even closer than you – on a 12cm grid. They look great so far this year (a couple of months yet before harvest though….), really big fat stems so I am hopeful of some big heads.

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