Harvesting and storing garlic

Garlic bulbs are ready to harvest in late spring or summer, from seven to eight months after they are planted. The outward signs are the green leaves, which will begin to turn brown, and the flower stems – if present – which will begin to soften, although staying green. If you are not sure, just pull back the soil around one of your bulbs, if the clove ridges are clearly defined and the bulbs are a decent size, and some of the leaves have died back, then harvest them.

Don’t leave harvesting until the leaves die back completely as with onions, because by this time the bulbs will have started to split. Once the bulbs have split, they are still fine to eat, but won’t store for long. So eat these ones first.

Some cultivars with curled flower stems, are ready to harvest as the coil in the stem begins to straighten. Most hardneck cultivars though, should have their flower stems removed before this time, because growing a flower stem reduces the nutrients going to the bulb so that bulbs are smaller. But there is also some evidence to show that leaving the flower stem attached until after curing will lengthen storage times. So you may need to choose between bulb size and length of storage!

Garlic that has been planted in light soils can just be pulled out of the ground. If your soil is heavier and/or you have planted them more deeply, then the best way to get the bulbs out is to insert a fork under them and carefully lift the whole plant. Shake or brush off any excess dirt. Don’t bang them against each other or anything else as this will bruise them and shorten storage life. Some books and articles suggest drying the bulbs in the sun for a few days before curing. This may be OK in cool countries and climates, but in Australia our summers get too hot and the bulbs are likely to get sunburnt. The protective skins don’t fully develop until after curing. In dry areas, some growers place freshly dug bulbs in groups on top of the soil, to dry out and start the curing process. They are arranged so that the green leaves from one clump of bulbs, protect the next clump from the sun. However, even then some garlic bulbs can get sunburnt, and the dramatic rise and fall in temperature from day to night can harm the bulb, reducing storage times. If an appropriate space is available they are better cured under cover, where temperatures fluctuate less. Leave plants intact (don’t remove leaves, flower stalks or roots) and hang in bunches or place on racks in a dry airy position that doesn’t get too hot. An old window screen, resting on sawhorses or something similar, makes a good drying tray. Or hang them from the eaves, as long as they are out of the sun. Leave them for a minimum of two to three weeks but if you can leave them for two months then they are likely to store for longer. In more humid areas it is a good idea to cut the roots really short or remove them altogether as they can act as a wick absorbing moisture and carrying it to the bulb thus increasing the chance of fungal diseases. Also, keep an eye on the leaves and if they show any sign of going mouldy, cut them off immediately because this mould will spread to the bulb.

Curing is particularly important if the bulbs are not quite mature, as the bulb continues to absorb moisture and nutrients from the stem and leaves after harvest. If you haven’t already removed the flower stem, then harvest and dry hardneck garlics with the flower head and stem still attached. Bulbs with the leaves attached can also be plaited into strings and hung in a dry airy position. See www.pennywoodward.com.au/articles for photographs that show you how to do this.

Storing

Once the bulbs are cured the skins will be papery and dry and the bulbs should feel firm and tightly packed. Check for any diseased, damaged or bruised bulbs and remove them. If the damage is only minor then just eat them. This is also a good time to select the bulbs you want to use for replanting. Choose the best and the healthiest, set them aside and store them separately from the bulbs to be consumed. This way they won’t get eaten by mistake. To allow for replanting,10 to 15 percent of the crop needs to be retained. The optimum storage temperature for bulbs for replanting is 10°C, with limits of 5°C and 18°C.

Unless the bulbs are to be plaited or hung in bunches, all the leaves and stems are now cut off about 2 cm from the bulb. Leave only 1 cm of the roots. Don’t try to wash off dirt or separate the individual cloves as either of these actions will radically shorten the storage life. Store bulbs in shallow cardboard boxes, in slatted wooden boxes, on trays, in net slings, in stockings, or in plaits – in fact in any way that allows air circulation around each bulb. The room where they are stored must be dry, airy and not too cold or hot. Check bulbs every few weeks and remove any diseased ones. Properly stored, some cultivars will last for twelve months or longer.

The optimum temperature for long storage of commercial crops is 0°C. These bulbs are not suitable for planting though, as bulbs grown from cloves kept at very low temperatures tend to be rough, produce side shoots as they mature, or mature too early. For the home grower, storage temperatures around 10°C are ideal, but consistency of temperature is important too. Don’t keep the bulbs in a position where they get very hot or very cold. Enjoy eating your own home grown garlic and if you run out or can’t grow your own then look for Australian grown garlic. I never eat imported garlic as all imported garlic is treated with Methyl bromide before being allowed into Australia. For details on locating locally grown garlic go the Australian Garlic Industry Association website http://www.garlicaustralia.asn.au/

Article and photographs copyright Penny Woodward

Photographs:
1 Freshly harvested white softneck garlic
2 Garlic left in the ground too long so that the bulbs have split.
3 Freshly harvested Korean Red garlic
4 Garlic hanging to cure in a dry, airy position out of direct sunlight.
5 A garlic crop after curing, and trimming to remove roots and leaves.

I have a love affair with garlic. I love that I can enjoy the fruits of your labor almost year-round.

It’s a great veggie to grow, but there are a couple of tricks that you should know when it comes to growing and harvesting garlic.

If you don’t know when to harvest garlic, you’ll run into one of two situations:

  1. Dig your garlic up early and you will have tiny bulbs.
  2. Keep your garlic in the ground too long, and you will have a split, overripe bulb that is no good.

At the same time, it is important to know how to harvest garlic. Luckily this is not too complicated.

So, let’s “dig” in and I’ll try to clear it up as much as I can!

When to Harvest Garlic

So, when should you harvest your garlic?

This is not an exact science, and it largely depends on the sort your growing and the climate you’re in. It is also important to note that there are three garlic harvests during a year.

The first harvest is usually in early spring, and the plants are usually about a feet tall at this time. You can either pull a complete plant and use this scallion for cooking or fresh garlic, or you can just cut some of the leaves and use these as a nice addition to your cuisine.

The second harvest usually happens in June and this is when you can harvest the scapes. The scapes grow from a woody central stalk that some garlic sorts have. It is generally believed that removing the scapes help in forming bulbs later on, but opinion on this issue is a bit divided among experts.

I personally prefer removing the scapes, as they are very tasty and healthy, and it does seem to help with having bigger bulbs. If you do decide to harvest scapes, they can be stored for around 3 months if refrigerated.

The third – and main – harvest comes usually later in the summer, around mid-July up to late august. Again, all of these timelines can be pushed ahead of schedule if the climate is warm, or there were stretches of unusually warm weather, so it is best to check upon your plants regularly.

There is quite a bit of preparation that comes into play here, and I will come back to go over it in detail, but I’d like to point out one last factor that can influence the time of harvest:

The kind of garlic you planted.

In general, there are softneck and hardneck garlic varieties, each with their own advantages (there are also great-headed varieties, but these are more like leeks, and are not really recommended for planting).

Softneck varieties

A bushel of softneck garlic.

This is what you would most commonly find in your local store. These sorts are recommended for warmer climates, and they can be braided since their necks stay soft after the harvest. They typically have two layers of smaller cloves and one layer of bigger cloves around them, and have a strong flavor.

The most common softneck sorts are Silverskin and Artichoke garlic. Silverskin has stronger flavor and can be stored for around a year, while Artichoke can be stored for around 8 months and packs a bit less of a punch.

Hardneck varieties

A harvest of hardneck garlic. source

These are great for these cold northern winters, and their deeper roots allow the plant to survive the freezing and thawing of the ground much better. Unlike softnecks, they have only one layer of fairly large cloves that grow in a ring around the stem.

While they might be easier to grow, their shelf life is unfortunately shorter. But hey, there’s less peeling involved and they have scapes. They are called hardneck because they have a rigid stalk that extends an inch or two from the top of the bulb. Most popular sorts are Rocambole, Purple Stripe, and Porcelain.

Since softneck are traditionally planted in warmer climates, you can expect their main harvest as early as late spring. Obviously, they do not have the second harvest, as they very rarely have scapes.

Harvesting garlic is a bit tricky, since you can’t see when the bulbs are ready to be dug up. If you wait until all the leaves go brown you’ll have overripe bulbs, and the cloves will start to separate, which means your garlic spoils more easily.

Since each leaf also acts as a wrapper for the bulb, it means that you would normally like to have as many live leaves when you dig your garlic out, as these wrappers can greatly increase the shelf life.

On the other hand, if you are too eager and dig them out too soon, you will end up with small bulbs that also can’t last as long when stored.

Some experts say that you should harvest when the lower leaves are brown, but the top 5-6 are still green. A good rule of thumb is to wait until third of leaves are brown. It’s a good idea to check up on one or two plants, to see if the bulbs are big enough. Just remove a bit of dirt around the stalk to get a good look.

If you’re satisfied with the size, you should proceed with the harvest. If not, then you can wait a bit more, but when about half of the leaves are brown, you should dig out all of your garlic, no matter the size.

How to Harvest Garlic

A envy-inducing garlic harvest. source

Harvesting garlic is fairly straightforward, but a bit of care should be taken. Even though it might be tempting to try and pull the bulbs out by stems, you will most likely end up with a broken-off stem, as they are fairly sensitive. This is a problem because you want to cure garlic with its leaves on, as it stores better that way.

The best way is to use a spading fork to loosen the soil around your plants, but be careful not to dig too close to the heads. When you are confident that you can dig them out, carefully lift the bulbs with a spade or a similar tool, and gently brush off the soil. If the soil has a bit of a clay-like quality and sticks, don’t try to clean it by hand, just leave it for the time being.

Now, unlike with the onions, it is really not a good idea to leave your fresh garlic too long in the sun, so don’t leave it lying around while you’re moving on to the next plant. Move it to a shady area with good air circulation, like a porch or a shed (or at least put it under a tree for the time being).

Once again, garlic is really sensitive, so avoid bumping or dropping it. They bruise easily and it greatly reduces the flavor.

How to Preserve Garlic

Garlic can last you a long time, but it has to be cured and stored properly.

Curing

In general, curing means that you allow your garlic to slowly dry down in such a way that you preserve all the nutrients and flavor. As I already mentioned, you should keep your garlic in a dry and shady place with good air circulation.

The best way, in my opinion, is to hang them upside down in bunches of 4 to 6, but other gardeners also bundle them in bunches of 10 to 12 bulbs. Smaller bunches mean that the garlic gets to breathe more, so curing is a bit faster.

Remember when I said to be careful not to snap off the stems while harvesting?

You need to cure garlic with leaves and roots, as the bulb keeps drawing energy from them over time. Intact leaves also mean that any bugs and fungi won’t spoil your garlic while it’s cured.

Curing usually takes between two weeks and two months, depending on the humidity. You will know when your garlic is ready for storage because the leaves will be completely dry and brown, and roots will look shriveled and be hard like a brush. Also, the bulb wrappers will become dry and papery, and you will be able to split cloves with ease.

Of course, you don’t have to cure all of your garlic. You can use a portion of it fresh, right out of the garden. You can even use some of your harvest to make your own garlic spray. If you plan on planting again, you should save some of your largest, best, cured bulbs.

Cleaning

Before you store your garlic, you need to trim off the roots and leaves to 1/4 or 1/2 inch. Since it is all dried up, most of the remaining dirt will dislodge, and a couple of layers of wrappers will also separate. Be careful not to remove too many wrapper layers, as they protect the cloves. It is best not to bother too much with it, just remove the dirtiest wrappers. Don’t wash the bulbs.

Storage

Storing garlic is fairly simple. Keep them in a cool, dry place. Commercially stored garlic is kept at 32 °F, but the ideal temperature range for home storage is between 40-60 °F, according to the potato and garlic experts. In other words, you can simply toss them into your kitchen cupboard, or a storage shelf.

Since garlic tends to sprout at lower temperatures, it is not advisable to store it in a refrigerator. The ideal humidity is around 60%, so don’t store it in your cellar or basement if it’s damp, because it can lead to mold and fungus.

Garlic FAQs

Q. What is the best way to store my garlic?

Garlic is fairly easy-going when it comes to storage. Really, any container that has decent airflow will do. You can put it in mesh bags, like the ones that are used to store potatoes, or you can put it in woven baskets, brown paper bags, cardboard cases, and so on.

If you were growing softneck garlic, you can remove the tops, or you can keep them and braid your garlic and hang it in a kitchen (or wherever you think is appropriate).

Q. How is a garlic braid made?

This requires that you leave quite a bit of the stem when you’re curing. After your garlic is ready for storage, you need to soak the stems to make them pliable. You start with the three largest bulbs that form the bottom of your braid. When you lay them out, you start adding the remaining bulbs (you would usually have 12-13 bulbs in a braid), and then braid them as you would braid hair.

Q. What is a “scape”?

Scapes are found in hardneck garlic varieties. A scape is a thin green extension that grows from the central woody stalk, that start to curl around the stem as it grows. Near the end of a scape is a small swelling which contains more than a hundred tiny cloves, genetically identical to cloves that are found in the bulb.

After a while these scapes die out, and the tiny cloves spill onto the ground. However, these scapes take a lot of energy that the plant could use to grow the bulb, so they are usually cut. Scapes are pretty tasty and healthy, and you can make great stir fry veggies with them.

While most people agree with the benefits of removing scapes, some experts argue that leaving scapes gives better cloves for replanting. Of course, none of this has been proven either way, so it all amounts to personal preference.

Q. How do I know garlic bulbs are ready to dig?

Check the leaves. Garlic is usually ready for harvest when the bottom leaves have died out, and only around half a dozen are still green. Before you go about digging up all of your garlic, you can check one or two of your plants, to see if the bulb is big enough, and if the wrap is properly formed.

Q. Should I leave the tops on, or cut them off?

If you are growing softneck garlic, it is simply a matter of preference and whether you want to store them in bags, or make braids out of them. For hardneck garlic, it is a common practice to cut the tops off.

Q. How long should I let garlic dry?

It depends on humidity, but between 2 weeks and 2 months. Best way to tell it is done is that leaves, roots, and wrappers dry out.

As you can see, growing garlic is a bit of a chore, when you look into all the steps that need to be taken, but it sounds worse than it is. Indeed, almost all of the work requires very little time and effort, and in turn you get a tasty, healthy, product that you can enjoy throughout the year.

So what are you waiting for? Get crackin’ and grow some garlic!

Share this article if you’ve found it useful, or if you’ve just simply enjoyed it.

Do you have any experience or tips you would like to share with us? Looking forward to hearing it in the comments!

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How do you know when to harvest garlic bulbs and if they have matured to the right point for harvest?

Each leaf on the above-ground garlic plant represents one potential papery wrapper around the mature bulb. Having well developed, fully intact wrapper layers means that garlic will store longer and keep its wonderful aroma and flavour. The trick is to let the plants begin to die back, but harvest before all the leaves have turned brown.

The top-most, green leaves extend down, into the soil, around each garlic bulb. When the lower two thirds of leaves have dried up and turned brown, the garlic bulbs will be at their best. Because there are still green leaves, there is still quite a lot of moisture left in the bulbs. The process of allowing this moisture to reduce naturally is called “curing” and will increase the storage life of garlic bulbs by months.

Harvest garlic bulbs gently. Take time to loosen the soil above each bulb. Avoid piercing the bulbs by loosening the soil some distance from each one with a fork. Do not rely on simply pulling upwards on the stem, but rather pull gently and at the same time coax the bulb out of the soil with the other hand. All this fuss will be worth it if the bulb can be extracted without damaging the protective layers.

Once the bulbs are dug, lay the plants in a single layer somewhere that is dry, airy, and out of direct sunshine. Leave the plants (turning them every few days doesn’t hurt) like this for at least a week. The green leaves should dry up and turn brown on their own. This can take several weeks if a lot of moisture is present in the plants’ tissues, so play it by ear.

When the bulbs are cured, and no green is left showing on the upper leaves, the garlic will be ready for cleaning and storage. We prefer using a toothbrush to loosen and scrub away any soil still stuck to the bulbs, and trim the roots with scissors. This is the time to braid soft-neck garlic. For hard-neck garlic, trim the stem to within about three inches from the bulb. If the stem is pliant or seems to still have a moist core, it’s worth letting the garlic dry for another week. Garlic netting is the best way to store hardneck garlic bulbs, but they can also be tied in small bundles and hung for easy access in the kitchen.

Save the biggest, best looking bulbs for planting in September – or choose some new garlic varieties. Either way, plant lots of garlic. It’s one of the most economical garden crops.

More on How to Grow the Best Garlic.

Garlic Scape Pesto Recipe.

Garlic Casablanca is probably the variety you’re going to see on the shelves at your local garden centre. Garlic is a great staple to keep in the fridge. Whether you buy garlic in the shops or grow it yourself, garlic seems to last forever.

Much like the shallots, I’ve chosen a spot that has not been used to plant onions or leeks before and hasn’t been manured for at least two years. I thought this was a great opportunity to demonstrate inter-cropping by planting the garlic Casablanca bulbs in between the two shallot varieties I planted earlier.

Inter-cropping is a great thing to do if you can do it. It makes use of the ground more efficiently and you keep down the mite and pest population among you garlic Casablanca plot.

Garlic Casablanca origins

The word Casablanca drums up images of warm sandy beaches and glorious Moroccan sunshine – but garlic Casablanca is a hardneck variety that originates from Eastern Europe and is meant to be quite resilient in cold conditions – making it perfect for the UK. I’ve done a search online to see if I could find more information on garlic Casablanca – with little avail!

Following the instructions on the packet I buried the garlic 2cm into the ground but unlike the shallots, I was sure to bury the tops of the garlic Casablanca with soil. The rows of three bulbs were placed 25cm apart.

This variety is said to give off a lovely strong flavour and is able to store well for long periods. We tend to use garlic in everything these days and a lot of people I know say that they can’t stand the stuff – the truth is, fresh garlic when used properly doesn’t taste of garlic that much, its the fake powdered garlic that can inflict a strong taste and subsequent bad breath.

My Garlic Fell Over – How To Fix Drooping Garlic Plants

Garlic is a plant that requires some patience. It takes around 240 days to mature and it’s worth every second. In our household there really is no such thing as too much garlic! During the course of those 240 days, any number of pests, diseases and weather conditions can affect the garlic crop. One such crisis occurs when garlic is falling over. So, how to fix drooping garlic? Read on to learn more.

Help, My Garlic Fell Over!

First things first. I’m stating the obvious for most garlic growers, but here goes. When garlic is reaching maturation, the leaves begin to sag and brown. You end up with garlic plants drooping. If you do a quick math calculation to figure out how many months it has been since you planted the garlic, you may just realize that it’s nearing harvest time.

If you’re still in doubt and your memory is like mine (that is like a sieve), simply pull up one of droopy plants. If the bulb is large and ready, there’s no need to wait for full dieback, but leave the foliage on to dry naturally. This extends the garlic’s storage time.

If the bulb is ready, then there’s no further need

for troubleshooting floppy garlic. If, however, the garlic is falling over and readiness isn’t a factor, it’s time to look further for another possible cause.

Troubleshooting Floppy Garlic

How to fix drooping garlic depends on what other problems may be affecting the plants.

Moisture issues

Another reason for a drooping garlic plant is the most common reason for drooping in any plant — lack of water. Garlic requires consistently moist soil. Water the plants with 2 inches of water at least two times a week.

Conversely, too much water can also affect the garlic, resulting in garlic that is falling over. Sometimes during heavy rainstorms, your garlic may get beaten down by the force of the storm. Don’t worry; it’s likely that the garlic will bounce back as it dries.

Nutrient problems

Yet another reason for drooping garlic plants may be that they are hungry. Lack of nitrogen, potassium, calcium, and magnesium will affect the growth of the plants. You can bring them around by doing a foliar feed or root zone feeding.

Insect pests

A more dire possibility may be that the garlic has become the host for onion root maggot or wireworms. Although garlic is a hardy veggie, it’s also prone to any number of insect infestations and fungal diseases, not to mention the above soil deficiencies.

Poor location

Perhaps you have planted your garlic in the wrong spot. Garlic needs at least six hours of sun in quick draining soil, rich with nutrients. Maybe you should try replanting the garlic. Prepare a new site for it if you think the wilt is caused by poor soil or if the plants are in too shady of an area.

Amend the soil in a sunny area with equal parts of organic compost and well-draining soil. Dig 3 inches of this into the top 3 inches of soil in the new site. Dig the garlic up and transfer them in the morning of a cool day.

Feed the garlic with a side dressing of nitrogen fertilizer. Dig this into the top inch of soil around each plant and water the plants immediately thereafter. Spread 2-3 inches of organic mulch around the plants to maintain warmth and moisture. Hopefully, all this will perk up the garlic and you will no longer need to say, “Help, my garlic fell over!”

My hardneck garlic is falling over

We don’t seem to have any garlic experts here at the moment, I didn’t get any replies when I asked the same question a few days to a week ago. I’m growing solent wight as usual, plus early purple wight & some elephant.

So I rang the Isle of Wight garlic farm which is where my seed garlic came from.

They said I’d done the right thing in gently pushing back the soil to check the size of the bulb rather than just pulling up & finding them tiny as everyone else who rang them had done!

As suspected it is the cool weather we’ve been having lately. They swell right at the last stage of growth apparently. They reckon it’s about 6 weeks behind (I’m near the south coast).

They suggested just time, but I asked what to feed as I wanted to increase their chances & they said a balanced fertiliser. So I thought not tomato food etc. which is all about increasing flower production not root growth I think, so I’ve bought some growmore to sprinkle on & water in. I’d have just used blood, fish & bone if my dog wouldn’t be attracted to it!

As long as the foliage isn’t all yellow & dying, hopefully you may get a bit more growth out of them. Only one of mine has even produced a flowering stem so far, which I snapped off to let the energy go to the bulb instead.

Planting Garlic in Fall

September 14, 2018 01:35

17 Comments

In late summer or early fall, most gardens are full of delicious vegetables ready for the table and winter storage. This time of year can be one of the most rewarding times for gardeners as the fruits of their labour are fully paying off. As a result, one of the last things on their mind is preparing the garden for planting garlic in the fall.

Most vegetable growers or gardeners do their garden planning during the winter or very early spring. This means that they often overlook the fact that garlic should ideally be planted in fall. In climates like Canada and the northern United States, fall planting of garlic produces strong flavoured, hardy garlic bulbs that can grow to impressive sizes. With a bit of special attention, garlic can be planted and overwintered in almost any region, including the North.

Three most important steps to planting garlic in the Fall:

Planting Date

The best time to plant garlic in the fall will depend on your location and climate. The goal is to have the cloves develop as much root growth as possible before winter, without having the garlic emerge from the ground and ending up with green top growth. This means that the date of planting can range from mid-September to as late as the end of November depending on where you live and how long you want your cloves to grow roots before winter.

Generally speaking, it is recommended that garlic in Canada be planted around October 15th every year. This conventional wisdom, however, is a very broad recommendation and is not always ideal for every location.

In colder zone 2 & 3 regions such as Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Northern Ontario and parts of BC where winter comes early, garlic planting can start as soon as September 15th and go as late as the end of October (or until the ground freezes).

In warmer regions like southern Ontario, Quebec, coastal B.C, the Maritime provinces, and much of the Northern United States, planting can range from early October until the last week of November. If garlic is planted early in the season and some green top growth occurs above the soil line going into winter, it is not the end of the world. The green leaves may die back over winter, but the cloves will re-grow new leaves in spring.

Planting Depth

Generally, garlic planting depth ranges anywhere from 1″ to 3″ inches deep. How deep you should plant your garlic cloves will depend on a couple of factors.

The first thing to consider is the type of soil you have. On poorly drained soils like clay, or regions that generally receive very high amounts of rain, planting deeper than 1″ or 2″ can cause the garlic to decay over winter, in early spring or during wet periods. In sandy or very well-drained soil, planting less than 2″ or 3″ can lead to drought stress during hot or dry periods.

On occasion, some growers plant deeper than 3″, however, this only works in very dry sandy soils. Generally, any deeper than 3″ is considered excessive and will force the garlic plants to use valuable energy when emerging from the soil which can limit the size of the harvested bulbs come fall.

The second factor to consider is the climate of the area. The deeper a garlic clove is planted, the more winter protection it has. In warmer regions like the west coast where winter conditions are mild or in areas with very high snowfall, planting depth is less of a concern. In very cold climates like the prairies or locations that have a lot of freezing/thawing cycles, planting on the deeper side can help protect the cloves over the winter. At at a depth of 2″ garlic is usually deep enough to survive the winter. However, 1″ can easily have winter kill on the more exposed areas without a thick mulch cover.

Winter Protection

In the colder regions of Canada and some northern states, covering the garlic with a mulch such as straw, hay or leaves is highly recommended to protect the bulbs over winter. In milder regions like southern Ontario, mulching is not essential, however, can still help protect the garlic from freeze/thaw cycles, as well as keep the soil warmer to allow the roots to continue growing into early winter.

Mulching should be delayed until late fall (usually November) when the weather has turned colder. This delay will help prevent the bulbs from rotting under warm and wet soil conditions. In very wet regions where the winters are mild, mulching is not generally recommended (especially on clay soils).

In spring, remove the mulch covering as soon as possible. The ground will usually still be frozen, and the removal will help warm up the soil quickly. Mulch can either be thrown into the compost pile or put back over the garlic as a summer mulch once the temperatures increase.

If you have experience or some thoughts about planting garlic, Leave a Comment Below! We’d love to hear what you think!

When does spring start?

Astronomical spring

Astronomical seasons refer to the position of Earth’s orbit in relation to the Sun, considering equinoxes and solstices. This is due to the 23.5 degrees of tilt of the Earth’s rotational axis concerning its orbit around the Sun. Since the seasons vary in length, the start date of a new season can fall on different days each year. This year, astronomical spring began on 20 March 2019 and ended on 21 June 2019.

For upcoming years, the dates for astronomical spring will be;

Year Spring Starts Spring Ends
Spring 2019 Wednesday, 20 March 2019 Friday, 21 June 2019
Spring 2020 Friday, 20 March 2020

Saturday, 20 June 2020

Spring 2021

Saturday, 20 March 2021

Monday, 21 June 2021

Spring 2022

Sunday, 20 March 2022

Tuesday, 21 June 2022

Spring 2023

Monday, 20 March 2023

Wednesday, 21 June 2023

Spring 2024

Wednesday, 20 March 2024

Thursday, 20 June 2024

Meteorological spring

Meteorological seasons are instead based on the annual temperature cycle and measure the meteorological state, as well as coinciding with the calendar to determine a clear transition between the seasons.

The meteorological seasons consist of splitting the seasons into four periods made up of three months each. These seasons are split to coincide with our Gregorian calendar, making it easier for meteorological observing and forecasting to compare seasonal and monthly statistics. By the meteorological calendar, spring will always start on 1 March; ending on 31 May.

Early, Mid and Late Blooming Bulbs for an All-Spring Flowering Garden

Spring flowers not only brighten the garden but lift your mood. After a long winter of gray skies, impossible snow and hardly a green thing in sight, the rejuvenating powers of spring are harnessed in its flower displays. Spring can provide an entire season of interest with early, mid and late periods, each encompassing its own flower varieties. The unveiling of these spring bulbs is gradual and can last from late winter into the beginning of summer with some careful planning. That’s where DutchGrown Flower Bulbs come in. They have a huge selection of flower bulbs that can keep spring bright from its beginning up until its end and the start of summer.

The bright hues of spring soon give way to summer, but there is that period when all your daffodils and tulips are gone and little remains in the way of color. Often, there are a couple of months of waiting for summer splendor and watching green things erupt without any of those vibrant tones to set them off. The spring palette is a varied one and preplanning can use each of the bulbs available for a consistent color show that responds as the temperatures heat up.

The three parts of spring are early, mid and late. Early spring usually amps up at the end of winter with crocus, snowdrops, and early daffodils making their welcome appearance. Some other early risers might include:

  • Anemone
  • Muscari
  • Scilla
  • Puschkinia
  • Iris reticulata
  • Winter aconite
  • Chionodoxa (glory of the snow)
  • Double Early Emperor tulips
  • Spring snowflake

(see all early spring blooming flower bulbs here)

Many of the earliest bloomers are very small bulbs, tempting “snack size” treats for hungry squirrels and other animals. Use them ‘en masse’ for the most effective displays and cover the area with mesh or at least a thick mulch to keep animals out of the bed. As you see green poking above the mulch, pull it away to make it easier for these hardy plants to grow and bloom.

Mid-spring is one with which we are most familiar when it comes to bulbs. The classic fall planted darlings are what naturally come to mind. Here you’ll find anything from dainty checkered fritillaria to robust tulips and carefree anemones. There are native and naturalized bulbs, as well as brilliantly bred frilled, double petal, variegated foliage and more anomalies. In tulips alone, there are more special adaptations than the imagination can encompass. Some of the most fun that will start neighborhood tongues wagging are:

  • Caribbean Parrot tulip
  • Ice Cream tulip
  • Mini Thalia daffodil
  • Camas lily
  • Fritillaria Imperial Crown
  • White Triumphator tulip
  • Hollyhock hyacinth
  • Persian lily
  • Brigid anemone

(see all mid spring blooming flower bulbs here)

There is still another season to which you can look forward. The last month or so before we slide into summer bliss can also be filled with wonderful blooms. In addition to late season classics like tulips and daffodils, we can now add stunners such as allium and bluebells. Just as your dahlia tubers are starting to produce some foliage, you can still enjoy bright tones in the many later forms of spring bulbs like:

  • Arabian starflower
  • Parrot tulips
  • Queen of the Night tulip
  • Spanish bluebells
  • Allium Globemaster
  • Anemone de Caen
  • Minnow daffodil

(see all late spring blooming flower bulbs here)

The timing of each of these bulbs is a bit vague. That is because it will depend upon where you live and how quickly soil warms. Combined with adequate spring rains; well-draining, nutrient rich soil; and those warm temperatures, some bulbs will come up sooner than others in certain locations.

The 4-generation DutchGrown company is committed to delivering the healthiest bulbs to your door, and they even have wholesale pricing for those that qualify. These are true flower bulbs from Holland, the place that made spring flowers, like tulips, famous. Start selecting your choices today and beat the rush for delivery by fall planting time.

The above article was sponsored by DutchGrown. The information contained in this article may contain ads or advertorial opinions.

Garlic Growing Guide

Garlic is one of the easiest and least fuss vege crops you can grow. It takes up hardly any room (width wise above the soil) and once planted it requires little care. Packed with flavour and health properties, it’s a superfood of the garden!

Traditionally garlic is planted on the shortest day and harvested on the longest day, however it can be planted in both autumn and winter.

Garlic is used daily in many kitchens worldwide – it can be used both cooked and raw, in everything from salads to seafood dishes. Garlic goes especially well with prawns, chicken, lamb, bread, olives and pasta.

Garlic thrives if given basics – food, water and plenty of sun. It will grow in both garden beds and containers.

Prepare

The better the soil, the better your plants will grow. If you are starting with an existing garden bed dig in organic matter like sheep pellets and Tui Compost to your soil. Then add a layer of Tui Vegetable Mix. If planting in pots and containers use Tui Vegetable Mix.

Plant

Garlic bulbs are readily available in garden centres in winter, buy a whole bulb like you would at the supermarket. Steer clear of planting garlic from supermarkets as often it has been treated to stop it sprouting away in the supermarket – particularly if it’s been imported from China.

Planting in garden beds:

  • Break up each bulb into cloves, it is these cloves which you plant NOT the whole bulb.
  • Bury each clove finger depth at least 5cm below the ground (twice as deep as the length of the clove). Shallow planting will cause big problems. When the plants grow the roots can’t support the weight of the heavy leaves and fall over, pulling the whole plant out of the ground. Hence always plant deep!
  • Once planted, shoots will appear within a month or so.

Planting in pots and containers:

  • Garlic is happy growing in pots and containers, in a pot the size of a kitchen bucket you can plant about six cloves of garlic.
  • Choose a pot or container with good drainage and position in a spot that receives full sun.
  • Break up each bulb into cloves, it is these cloves which you plant NOT the whole bulb.
  • Fill with Tui Vegetable Mix.
  • Bury each clove finger depth at least 5cm below the mix (twice as deep as the length of the clove).

Nourish

Feed your plants and they will feed you. Plants use nutrients from the soil as they grow, so replenishing the nutrients ensures your plants grow to their full potential.

For garlic planted in garden beds feed every four weeks during key growth periods. Tui Vegetable Food is a rich formulation of fertilisers including dolomite, blood and bone and sheep manure dust designed to encourage healthy vegetable growth and microbial and earthworm activity in the soil. If planting in pots and containers use an all purpose variety, such as Tui NovaTec Premium fertiliser.

Apply Tui Organic Seaweed Plant Tonic through the season to encourage larger cloves.

Garlic needs to be kept well watered to produce large bulbs, particularly as the bulbs are starting to form in November and December. Well watered, well nourished plants will have a better chance of keeping insect pests and diseases at bay.

Be vigilant and stop unwanted insects and diseases from ruining your garlic plants. If aphids are a problem treat with a suitable insect control from your garden centre. If your garlic is affected by rust follow our information here >

Harvest

Harvest in summer once the tops start to die back. Don’t be tempted to pull the bulbs out by the leaves, dig up with a fork and leave to dry on the top of the ground for a week or so, then plait and store somewhere dry and away from direct sunlight.

Keep a few good heads of your own garlic to use as the stock of next year’s crop. You can expect about 150 plants from a dozen heads of garlic.

Once you’ve harvested your garlic, try this Potato Gratin with Gruyere and Garlic recipe to enjoy your bumper crop.

Tui Tips

  • Protect your garlic plants from the elements with layers of Tui Pea Straw Mulch to keep the soil moist and cool when the garlic is actively growing.

6 Mistakes to Avoid When Planting Garlic & Shallots

fertility garlic mulch shallots soil amendments Nov 01, 2018

Garlic is one of the easiest and most rewarding crops to grow, though it’s not a cakewalk. I’ve grown garlic here in the Finger Lakes for over nearly three decades and here are the keys to surrounding yourself with abundance.

Over the years we’ve become enamored with growing shallots as well, which are grown in exactly the same way.

Choosing the Best Garlic & Shallots to Plant

As we all know (and mostly have learned the hard way), what you reap is what you sow. Considering how long your garlic and shallots are in the ground and how much time you’ll invest in weeding and feeding them, it’s worth the extra dollars sowing the best stock possible. You’ll reap that much more when you harvest.

Biggest Mistake: Planting anything but the biggest and healthiest organic garlic and shallot bulbs you can find.

Why? There is a direct relationship between the size of bulbs and cloves you plant the size of the bulbs and cloves you’ll harvest. It’s not often true, but in the case of garlic and shallot ‘seed stock,’ bigger truly is better, as long as they’re still healthy and especially if they’re organic.

Easy Solution: Don’t skimp! Ask your local organic growers if they have any seed stock they’ll be willing to sell you. We grow tens of thousands of gorgeous organic seed-stock bulbs of both garlic and shallots of many different varieties, all well-adapted to our short seasons. You’ll find them at www.fruitionseeds.com.

When to Plant Garlic & Shallots

Garlic is planted in fall, allowing the cold to divide each clove into the bulb to come. Plant between Halloween and Thanksgiving for the healthiest garlic growth. Your goal is for each clove to establish its root system while growing as little shoot as possible.

Biggest Mistake: Planting too early.

Why? Garlic establishes it’s root system before sending up a green shoot. Planted too early, the green shoot can rise several inches, acting as a straw over the winter to draw water from the clove, effectively desiccating the clove and potentially killing it.

Easy Solution: Plant between Halloween and Thanksgiving.

It’s best to err on the side of planting late, rather than too early.

Preparing Soil for Garlic & Shallots

We till the soil for our garlic bed as close to planting as possible, which can be tricky in the cool, wet soils of autumn. Before we work the soil, we add compost as well as Fruition’s organic garlic & shallot fertilizer for full-spectrum, slow-release nutrition for the soil as well as the crop. Matthew has been perfecting our amendments for garlic & shallots over the years. In 2019, over 95% of the 10,000+ bulbs we grew were seed stock quality; there are many variables, but we’re pretty confident our blend tips the balance.

Biggest Mistake: Not enough fertility added or too much nitrogen added.

Why? Garlic is a ‘heavy feeder,’ so it will not grow large if nutrients are lacking. If its fertility is too nitrogen-rich, however, garlic will focus on vegetative growth, resulting in large leaves above small bulbs. Excess nitrogen also decreases storage life.

Easy Solution: Add rich, well-balanced compost as you prepare your soil as well as our organic slow-release fertilizer for robust soil and plant health as well as abundance to harvest.

Spread and incorporate soil amendments prior to planting. We add compost as well as slow-release, organic granular fertilizer to nourish the soil as well as our garlic in the seasons to come.

How to Plant Garlic & Shallots

First things first! Break each bulb into individual cloves and plant each clove tip up and root plate down.

Common Mistake: Planting cloves upside down.

Why? Garlic will only grow roots and shoots from specific places in its clove. When planted upside down, the shoot will go down and force it’s way to the sky despite, making way more work for your garlic to thrive. This also makes it more challenging to harvest, cure and store your garlic.

Easy Solution: watch our tutorial and plant tip up!

Sow both garlic and shallots root down, tip up.

Optimum Garlic & Shallot Spacing

Garlic is ideally planted with six inches between cloves, both in and between rows. We give a little more space, sowing with eight-inch centers, because we want to limit competition between plants both above and below the ground.

Common Mistake: Planting too close.

Why? Too close, garlic plants will compete with each other, to their detriment. Their roots compete for the same, finite nutrients. Leaves overlap, competing for sunlight.

Easy Solution: Bring a yardstick or some other measurement tool to the garden, helping keep you on-point, not too close or too far 🙂

Plant your garlic with at least six inches between cloves. We plant on a staggered grid, three rows per bed.

How Deep to Plant Garlic & Shallots

Planting depth makes all the difference. At a minimum, sow each clove three inches deep and then be sure to spread six inches of mulch or more. If you’re not planning to mulch, sow at least five inches deep.

Common Mistake: Not planting deep enough.

Why? Planted in fall and not growing rapidly until spring, garlic experiences the most dramatic freeze-thaw frost heaving of the season, bringing each clove to the surface if they’re not deep enough. Garlic will tolerate impressively cold temperatures but quickly succumbs to desiccating winter winds at the soils’ surface.

Easy Solution: Work soil well, so it’s easy to plant as deep as you need.

If your soil is freshly worked and not too wet, planting three to five inches deep is easy just with your hands. A trowel is perfect to get a few extra inches of easy depth in denser soils.

Garlic & Shallots: To mulch or not to mulch?

Until recently, I’ve always planted garlic and immediately spread six inches (often more!) of straw or shredded leaf mulch to cover. These last few years we’ve been experimenting with other techniques, which have a lot of merit. My favorite mulches are straw, grass clippings, deciduous leaves sent through a chipper/shredder and, believe it or not, moldy hay.

Common Mistake: Not mulching if you don’t always weed thoroughly or on-time. Mulching too little when you do mulch, resulting in more work and more weeds.

Why? Garlic is only an easy crop if you manage it more or less perfectly. It can easily become weedy, whether you mulch or not. The trick with mulch: be sure you’re adding a lot, knowing it will decompose and condense, and be prepared to hand-weed a bit and add several inches more mulch once and often twice in spring.

Easy Solution: Spread six inches of mulch or more as soon as you sow, spreading more in spring as needed.

Spread six inches of mulch or more as quick as you can after planting. Have plenty of mulch on-hand to add more in spring.

Friends, I’m delighted you’re planting garlic this season!

Planting garlic is one of the final moments in the garden we enjoy each season, a radical act of faith that even as one season ends, another begins. Garlic is a living link between seasons, between generations. As are you.

Happy Planting!

Sow Seeds & Sing Songs,

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