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Published on November 5th, 2013 | by Guest Contributor

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Fall Garden: How to Plant Garlic

It’s the middle of fall foliage time here in the Midwest, when harvests of apples, persimmons and pumpkins hits an all time high. Spiced cider delights the tongue and most of the fall planting has long since been finished– but not all! For the ambitious gardeners out there, there is still time to get some garlic ready for spring!

Garlic, purchased as a bulb in grocery stores and fresh food markets has qualities that newbie gardeners will adore. Although it can be purchased from your favorite organic seed company, at this time of year the stock can be depleted or completely gone. The type you can purchase in a local shop is usually a soft neck variety – where the cloves get progressively smaller towards the center.

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so many varieties of garlic to choose from!

Hard neck and elephant garlic are varieties that have cloves that are all about the same size, although these do not store quite as well over winter. Should you decide to check out organic seed companies you will learn that there are more varieties of garlic than you ever imagined! Its health benefits, long shelf-life and importance for many recipes makes it perfect for beginning gardeners, particularly if you think you have anything but a green thumb.

When planting garlic, separate the sections of the bulb into individual cloves, leaving on the protective papery layers that you normally remove for cooking. Plant about one half to one inch deep in loose fertile soil, about 3-5 inches apart. You may consider planting at different times of year for a more distributed harvest. (Note that if you live in a region with very cold temperatures to cover with straw or a similar material to keep the bulbs from heaving out of the ground during freezes.)

Both the leaves that develop in cooler temperatures and the bulbs that develop during warm longer days are delicious. When harvesting in August, dig up rather than pulling the plants, in order to avoid injury to the food, which may cause early spoilage.

Three Easy Steps for How to Plant Garlic:

1)   Loosen and enrich soil with compost or organic fertilizer

2)   Break bulb into individual cloves

3)   Plant cloves with pointy part up about ½-1 inch below the soils surface.

It’s time to harvest garlic when the tops begin to dry, usually in August in the Midwest/Great Lakes region of the U.S. Dig bulbs to avoid injury to your harvest that may cause spoilage. Store well dried bulbs at 32 degrees Fahrenheit, as any temperature above 40 degrees Fahrenheit will cause the bulb to begin sending up green sprouts.  Humidity levels should also be kept in a constant range between 65 to 70 percent. Cloves can be stored for up to seven months.

The autumn and winter treat of roasted garlic spread along freshly baked bread, or served with roasted winter vegetables is easily within reach of even the most inexperienced gardener/chef.

One of the best things about garlic is its long planting window… keep planting until the ground freezes.  Happy autumn planting!

Varieties of garlic image and solo garlic image from Shutterstock.





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