Embracing the Autumn Ritual: Planting Garlic for a Bountiful Harvest
Inspired by Jackie Panek, Annuals & Perennials Manager
As autumn blankets our gardens in a palette of warm hues, it's time to indulge in a cherished gardening ritual - planting garlic! For those who relish the magic of growing their own produce, this seasonal activity holds a special place in our hearts. At Wolf Hill, your trusted local home and garden center in New England, we're delighted to share the joys of this fall tradition with our dedicated community of gardening enthusiasts.
Why Garlic in the Fall?
The act of planting garlic is nothing short of enchanting. Picture those tiny green shoots, bravely pushing through the straw mulch in March, heralding the arrival of spring. For many, this sight is even more exciting than the emergence of crocus and narcissus!
Fall is the perfect time to plant seed garlic. By nestling the cloves into the earth now, they have ample time to establish their roots before the winter slumber. What's even better is that garlic's "Set and Forget" growing style requires minimal intervention, offering maximum rewards.
Preparing Your Garlic Bed
After bidding farewell to your summer garden treasures like tomatoes, squash, and peppers, consider rejuvenating the soil with a couple of bags of fresh compost. This simple step replenishes vital nutrients that may have been eagerly consumed by your previous crops. For an extra boost, I've found success in incorporating bulb tone into my garlic bed.
Harvesting the Rewards
By next July, the garlic you plant in the fall will be ready for harvest. Keep an eye out for the outer leaves, which will start to turn a golden brown and gently topple over. And let's not forget the scapes - those elegant stalks that unfurl from the center, promising flowers. Snip them away for larger, more uniform garlic bulbs. Oh, and a word of advice: don't even think about composting these treasures! Whether grilled or pickled, scapes add a delightful twist to a variety of dishes.
Planting Your Fall Garlic
Here's a crucial tip: ensure you purchase garlic bulbs that are explicitly intended for planting. The varieties you find in stores are often treated and may not yield the desired results. A day before planting, gently separate the bulb into individual cloves, making sure to leave as much of the papery skin intact as possible. In a 10'x10' bed, space them about six inches apart and plant them between 3" to 6" deep. Cover them with garden soil, give a gentle pat down, and water them in. We prefer to add an inch-thick layer of Mulch Master, though salt marsh hay or shredded leaves and grass work just as well. Keep in mind that your garlic bed will likely not need additional watering, as garlic prefers a drier environment.
Looking Ahead to a Flavorful Season
So, let the garlic planting fervor wash over you! While nothing quite compares to the freshness and flavor of homegrown tomatoes, garlic certainly gives them a run for their money. With proper drying and storage, you'll have a bountiful supply to elevate your late-summer Bruschettas. So, let's roll up our sleeves and start planting. Come next summer, you'll be wowing friends and family with the taste of your very own homegrown garlic!