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Planting garlic is easy, fun, and so rewarding. It’s a straightforward process if you understand some key growing points. To grow garlic successfully, you need to know when to plant garlic, how to plant garlic, and how to harvest it.
When To Plant Garlic
Plant garlic in the waning days of fall and grow through the fall, winter, and spring for a summer harvest. Garlic enjoys cool temperatures and cold winter days; it can grow in very cold climates if thoroughly mulched with straw to prevent it from completely freezing. In Zones 9 and 10, garlic is planted in the fall (we like to plant on Halloween) and left in the garden until the following summer. Before planting, we make sure our garlic bulbs get enough exposure to cold (vernalization) by placing them in the fridge for 40 days. This ensures adequate vernalization in the event we have a really warm winter. For those of you in Zone 8-3, this is likely unnecessary.
Considerations When Planting Garlic
Garlic is planted in the garden and left to grow for 6-9 months. It will be most happy in a part of the garden that is well-drained, gets full sun, and where it can be left to grow for that long period of time. We plant garlic in our herb beds, knowing they will take up space for the better part of a year.
The most common mistake growers make when planting garlic is to water too heavily, which rots the bulbs. Garlic does not require huge amounts of moisture and should be moderately watered during dry spells. For those in Zones 9 and 10, that may mean regular irrigation. It is key to turn off irrigation before harvest in summer to dry out your bulbs and be easier to harvest. If you continue to water up until the day of harvest, you will find that your bulbs will fall apart because the papers are not thoroughly dried.
Curing Your Harvested Garlic
After you harvest your garlic, you can use it right away, but if you plan on storing garlic through the fall and winter for eating or replanting, you will want to cure it. To cure garlic, leave the roots, stocks, and all the plant parts in place. Hang them in a well-ventilated area, out of direct sunlight for 3-4 weeks. A breezy patio works excellent.