WHEN TO PLANT: Spring or fall planting, is
often debated, but I believe that fall planting wins
everytime. It seems for many reasons that garlic does best
when it is in the ground for 8-9 months. So for most parts of
the country, this means garlic should be planted between late
September through the end of November. October is probably the
best planting time for states south of the Canadian border to
St. Louis. States south of St. Louis could postpone planting
until November and early December.
Garlic needs 40 or more cold days below 40°F in order for
the clove to split into a bulb—a process is called
vernalization. Otherwise, the grower will end up with a plant
looking like a green onion with no bulb. For spring planting,
seed can be stored in the refrigerator for 6 weeks under
40°F. This also forces the clove to split into a bulb.
WHERE TO PLANT: Anywhere you have good
humus-rich soil at least 6" deep with good drainage and a
minimum of 8 hours of sunlight. Flower pots (best set into the
ground to keep them moist and cool), planters, raised beds, or
a well drained garden area. Garlic likes moist cool spring
weather but it can't take constant wet conditions, dry
conditions or conditions that are too hot. It does not grow
well at 85-90°F. A constant supply of moisture with good
drainage will go a long way to ensure large bulb size.
WHAT TO PLANT: You have many choices.
Hardneck garlic takes a little more care than softneck do, but
they offer more varieties of garlic with different flavors and
heats than softnecks. Choose a couple of different varieties
and see how they do for you. Sometimes it takes a few years
accumulating before a strain does well. Local seed stock will
be a good choice. Make sure to plant enough for yourself,
friends, and neighbors! Two bulbs this year will give you 15
next year. Softnecks can store up to a year. Hardnecks store
6-8 months. Plant some of each and you'll have garlic year
around, including scapes to eat in June.