Planting & Growing Garlic
Planting garlic does require soil preparation starting in the spring well before October planting. Once you have located the area for your future garlic seed bed which has good drainage, garlic does not like being in wet areas. I recommend have the soil tested. Testing the soil will tell you what the soil is lacking or has too much of something. Testing is done by gathering a cup or so of soil from different parts of the future growing area then submit the soil to testing facilities which are available online.
Once your soil test is returned, the report will indicate the results of what is deficient and/or high in nutrients. Add the required amenities to the soil and cover with a poly type ground cover to stop weeds, but allowing water to penetrate the poly ground cover.
Often through the summer remove the ground cover and add compost and hummus, recover the plot with the ground cover. In around August remove the poly cover and till about 6 – 8 inches over looking for any possible weeds and remove them.
Keep the plot covered until your ready to plant, I do recommend organic blood meal, bone meal fish emulsion.
You need to be planting within the first few weeks of October, this will allow Plant the largest cloves root stub end down about 3 to 4 inches below the surface, spacing about 8 to 10 inches apart. Again I recommend shredded barley straw as a ground cover, but that is your choice as long as you remove weeds from your plot area(GARLIC DOES NOT DO WELL WITH WEEDS)
Once the snow is gone around March, start fertilizing until May, using potassium, fish emulsion, pelletized chicken manure. In June the scapes should be appearing, remove them once they start to curl. Don’t fertilize in June because it’s the bulb development period. Look for the leaves to start turning brown and when you see three leaves changing to brown it’s picking time. Try to pick in the early morning to keep the bulbs out of direct sunlight.
Use a shovel by lifting the soil from the bottom of the garlic bulb and the plant should lift out without any resistance. DO NOT pull the garlic plant by using any force. This harms the outer layers, so be gentle.
Store them in shaded area with ample ventilation by tying them at the leaf ends and hang down freely. Give them about three weeks in the ventilated shaded area to cure correctly.
Cut the leaf’s off close to the top of the bulb and trim the roots close but try not to cut into the root stem. Again keep the bulbs in small onion bags in a well ventilated low humid shaded area.
Pick the large cloves that are to be used for next years harvest…..so back into the ground in the following October and start all over again.