Planting Garlic

Metechi Garlic

I planted garlic this weekend. Last year I ordered several types of garlic from Seed Savers Exchange.  We planted Music, Shvelisi (Chesnok red), and German Extra Hardy.  They all grew well but only the Music really appealed to us flavor-wise.  I saved 5 heads of it from this summer’s harvest and replanted the cloves from those heads.  I also ordered some new varieties from The Garlic Store.  We planted Metechi and Romanian Red garlic in addition to the Music.  All together, we planted almost 70 cloves of garlic this year.  That is an increase of around 10-20 from last year.

Metechi Garlic - separating cloves

So, in case you don’t know how to plant garlic, I’ll describe.  Garlic comes in heads that contain 4-12 cloves.  I dig a hole about 2-3 inches deep, spaced every 6-12 inches.  At the garden (i.e. not before) I separate the cloves of garlic and place them pointy end up in the bottom of the hole.  I replace the dirt and move on.  Typically, garlic is planted in the fall, usually around Columbus day.  Through the fall and winter, the garlic forms roots from the cloves and begins to form a new head.  Some folks plant garlic in the early spring but it just seems easier to me to plant them in the fall and forget about it.  My garlic is all hard-neck which means that each clove will send up a hard stalk in the spring that will persist until
Hole for Garlic - separating cloves
harvest (I am sure there are other differences between hard and soft-neck also).  We harvest in July when the leaves from the hard stalks start to wither and turn brown.  We carefully dig the garlic and hang it to dry in the shed (leave the dirt still attached).   Once it dries for 4-6 weeks, we trim the leaves and roots and store in onion sacks in the cellar.  Easy-schmeesy!

Planting Garlic

We use a ton of garlic in canning and cooking so it is likely that we will use every bit of this garlic.  Once you try fresh garlic in things, it is hard to beat.  The stuff is simple to grow and fairly cheap to get started.  It’s easy to save heads for the next season so your investment can be a one time deal if you find types you like.  There are several places that sell garlic but they usually sell out early so start looking in July or August.  What we plant is organic but that’s up to you.  Garlic is sterile and will not cross pollinate so you can plant different varieties side by side.

9 thoughts on “Planting Garlic

  1. I have some garlic that has sprouted in my fridge, haha. Can you use that to plant? I’m not sure I will get around to it this year though, which is a shame. We use a ton of it!

  2. Erica,
    You can probably use it. Sometimes store-bought garlic has been sprayed to prevent folks from planting it, but if yours sprouted, you can probably plant it just fine. It’s worth a try if you want. It likes well drained soil so you could probably put it in a flower bed and see what happens.

  3. Great post! Just in time for me to start planting my very first. I have never planted garlic before and wanted to start this year and reading your post certainly helped! I had just ordered 3 heads of German Extra Hardy from Johnnyseeds.com, should be getting them anytime soon now. I thought I should start small for now and if I do well, next year I will order some more variaties. That way I’m not wasting money. 🙂

  4. YD, if you like the German EH, save a few from next year’s harvest and you can replant them too…saves tons of money!

  5. I’m going to be planting garlic for the first time in a few weeks once we get to the new house. I’m not sure what type yet, whatever I can find at the farm market I guess.

  6. Christy – congrats on the new place. You should be able to do just fine with most anything at the farmer’s market…you’ll love having fresh garlic!

  7. How do you store your garlic? I separate my cloves (but don’t peel them) and put them in mason jars and put them in the freezer. I’d like to can dices, or dehydrate and powder, or something. Not sure what to do with them. Love having tons of fresh garlic around though!

  8. I just store in in full head form in my basement in an old onion sack. I don’t separate the cloves until I need one. Then I just bring the head to the kitchen and store the unused cloves ina little terra cotta garlic keeper. Until then though they remain as full heads. We never rinse them until use either. We trim the stalks and roots once dried but never too harshly. Since we have all hard-necked varieties, we never do a braid. Maybe next year!

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