Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Planting Garlic

As I cleaned up the garden this past weekend in preparation for the snowstorm, I was faced with the yearly decision of where to plant the garlic for next years harvest. I needed to select a bed that did not have other alliums growing this year and did not compromise the garden planning for next year.

Garlic cloves ready for planting.

This is my third year planting garlic in Square Foot Gardens (SFG) and I have found that a 4x4 garden is the perfect size for the amount of garlic we use throughout the year.  Once planted, garlic is pretty trouble free. I give it a little organic fertilizer at planting time and a little more part way through around the time the garlic scapes begin to emerge.

Garlic bed July 2011

There isn't much left to my Mel's Mix in my SFGs. Over the years the soil breaks down and is amended with fresh compost. I like SFGs because the raised beds warm quicker in the spring, water drains really well, and the grid system makes it very easy to plan.

I have also found that the beds tend to dry out more quickly than the rest of the garden, the plants roots usually don't stretch beyond the box, and nutrients become depleted quickly and must be replenished more often.

I decided to double dig this bed to loosen the soil beneath the bed to make it easier for roots to penetrate. I also wanted to incorporate some of the native soil from underneath.

Double digging the SFG

I added a generous amount of compost, mixed it all together, and leveled it off. Then I sprinkled some organic fertilizer over the top and worked in it to the top few inches with a rake.

The garlic was planted 6-inches apart and 4 inches deep, then covered with a generous layer of hay. I usually use shredded leaves, but haven't raked any yet this year. It was very windy; so I had to anchor the hay down to keep it in place.

Mulched with hay

Covered with snow from October storm


  1. Looks good Rachel! What variety of garlic did you plant?

    I still have to mulch my garlic once the snow completely melts and I get some straw!

  2. I am a firm believer in double digging as the native soil once deeply dug and then amended regularly brings more nutrients and micro nutrients to the plants and also provides a much deeper root zone for the plants to grow in. I love the spacing of SFG though and continue to regularly use that in my gardening.

    The garlic patch looks great and you are all set for another year of good garlic growing!

  3. Snow can be considered a good shot of fertilizer too!
    Hope you have a great crop next summer!

  4. Robin: I haven't experimented too much with garlic. Romanian Red has always grown well for me so I replant it every year.

    Laura: I agree. Next spring I will be double digging all the SFGs and mixing in the native soil. My soil is very good quality as proven by the new bed dug this past spring.

    Sue: So I should be happy about the white stuff, right :)

  5. Out of curiosity how much garlic do you plant in your SFG??
    The setup looks good, and is nearly identical to the double digging, planting, and straw mulching I recently did as well!
    Here's hoping for some great garlic harvests next year :-)

  6. Fred: I planted about 45-50 cloves in the SFG. I try to keep a row in the back free where I add a trellis and plant pea pods in the spring.

  7. Everyone I know that plants garlic planted in just before "the" snowstorm this year. It will be fun to see who first announces pickable scapes next spring.