Shoving garlic bulbs into the earth is usually the last planting chore of the season, and it coincides with my last blog post of the season. Thanks for reading, and thanks for the thoughts and tips you shared.
The outstanding weather of the past few days allowed me to get 450 cloves of garlic planted and to document the process with photos. This is my method for growing garlic; please feel free to add any advice about methods that work for you.
I began by tilling a couple of beds that had previously held melon and cucumber plants, using a new Husqvarna tiller that we bought to replace the Beast which, by the way, is still standing at the end of the row where it died.
It took about 6 small garden cart loads to cover the 5×30 foot bed with a couple of inches of rotted horse manure, and a few turns with the fork and rake to combine the manure with the soil.
Though I saved some of my own harvest, most of the garlic I planted came from a Fedco Seeds organic grower. I'm growing only one variety this year, Music, a Porcelain type of hardneck garlic with 4-6 large cloves in each good sized head. Here the heads are separated into individual cloves in preparation for planting. Note the knife-like tool in the photo: it's a very handy garden tool with a wonderful name: hori-hori.
Now comes the fun part – each garlic needs about 6 inches in all directions between it and the next plant to grow without too much competition. More generous spacing will get you larger bulbs, but my goal is to maximize the number of bulbs so a 6 inch grid works for me. The nylon trellis that I use for peas and beans just happens to have the right sized openings.
Using the hori-hori, I opened a 4 inch deep slot into the soil and push the clove into place, root side down.
Finally, the buried garlic bulbs are covered with a light mulch to prevent freeze-thaw disturbances. Here I've used grass clippings because they were available, but straw is the classic choice. The mulch also helps to minimize weeds and to retain moisture in the spring when the garlic first shoots up.
There are still chores to be done in the garden, more than I will be able to get to before the snow falls, but at least the crucial job of planting is finished. Thanks again for keeping me company during this growing season!