Latin Name: Allium sativum
Alternative Names: Asiatic / Hardneck Garlic
Main Uses: Culinary
Zone Hardiness: Zone 3
Exposure: Full sun
Height: 50 cm (20")
Planting: For best results, plant garlic once weather has cooled off with regular light frosts (early through late October on the prairies). Plant each clove 10 cm (4") deep, with pointy side facing up. Garlic can be planted in rows approximately 20 cm (8") apart, with 10 cm (4") between plants.
Add a tablespoon of bonemeal in each planting hole, to promote strong root development. Cover the bulbs, and water. Cover garlic with approximately 15 cm (6") of loose leaf mulch for winter protection, to keep soil moisture even, and reduce weeds. Avoid mulching with straw, as this can promote disease in garlic.
Soil Type: Garlic thrives in well drained soil. Amend clay soils with leaf litter, compost, coco-earth or other organic materials that improve structure ahead of planting. Avoid planting garlic in low or wet spots in the garden.
Watering: Garlic does like to be watered if soil conditions are dry, but over watering effects bulb quality. Strive for even soil moisture without any sogginess. Watering is stopped approximately 2 - 3 weeks before harvest, to ensure bulbs have good flavour and cure well.
Garden Companions: Garlic is a popular companion plant, throughout the vegetable and herb garden.
Pest/Disease Issues: Garlic is resistant to most pests, but can be effected by a variety of disease pathogens. For home gardeners this is rarely a problem, but the more you plant the higher the potential incidence of disease. Crop rotation on a two year rotation schedule is recommended.
What if shoots appear in fall? Garlic that is planted too early, or encouraged by warm weather late in fall, may grow above ground shoots - this leaves plants vulnerable to frost damage. If shoots emerge above ground, cover plants with additional leaf mulch to help protect them.
Can garlic be grown in containers? Garlic must be grown in-ground to successfully winter outdoors. It is, however, well suited to larger raised garden beds.
Can garlic be grown indoors? Garlic must be grown outdoors to be able to develop strong bulbs. However, garlic scapes (the tops) can be grown indoors, in a very sunny location.
Harvesting & Storing:
Garlic scapes (the flower-like shoots that grow up from the base) can be harvested in mid to late July, and are very delicious! These can be used fresh, and are also wonderful for pickling.
Garlic bulbs are typically ready for harvest in early to mid-August, and a good rule of thumb is to wait until the leaves have started to turn from green to dried-out tan. There is some art to identifying when to dig "perfectly" mature heads, but essentially the bulbs should be full and have most of their skins still on them. Bulbs need to be dug carefully so as to avoid nicking or bruising the bulbs (damage to the bulbs reduces storage time considerably). Roots can be trimmed by 1/3 and any soil GENTLY brushed off the bulbs.
Once out of the ground the garlic is cured for a couple of weeks. This simply involves letting the garlic air dry in a well ventilated location out of direct sunlight. The garlic can be hung up to cure, or laid out on screens. After two weeks the stalks can be trimmed down and your garlic is ready to go!