by Ann Barnes, EMGV
I love garlic. Since it should be planted in fall (September – November), it is not too late to add it to your garden if you act quickly. Garlic is easy to plant, easy to grow, and can be stored for months after harvest. Choose a sunny spot with good drainage, and add compost if your soil is heavy clay. Garlic doesn’t compete well with weeds, so you will need to take care of those winter weeds that can take over your garden!
“Seed garlic” (actually cloves of garlic) can be purchased online or in garden centers. Garlic from the grocery store may not be a variety best suited for growing in our area and also could be treated to reduce sprouting, so buying seed garlic may lead to a better crop. There are two classifications of garlic varieties – Hardneck and Softneck. Softneck varieties are most often recommended for southern gardens. Softneck garlic is the familiar type of garlic you see in supermarkets. It stores well and can be made into braids. Hardneck varieties are also prized for their edible scapes that can be harvested in the spring. It does not store as well as softneck garlic. There are some varieties that grow well in the Piedmont, but most are more suited for areas with colder winters.
The video above details how to plant garlic. Make sure the pointed end of the clove faces up and the flat end faces down. Plant 1-3″ deep, 4-8″ apart. Mulch to retain moisture and reduce weeds. If a soil test indicates your soil pH is below 6.0, lime may be required. Garlic is also a “heavy feeder”, so an application of fertilizer at planting and again in early spring may be desired.
Garlic is ready for harvest in June or July, when leaves start to lose their green color. Use a garden fork to lift the bulbs from the ground. Remove soil without washing and leave the stem and roots on the harvested bulbs. Allow garlic to cure in a well ventilated, dry place for about two weeks. If you plan to braid your softneck garlic, do so while the stems are still flexible. See instructions here: http://www.marthastewart.com/908778/braiding-garlic
References (including variety suggestions):