autumn gardening: hardneck garlic

20111024-150620.jpg Most of my October garden-time involves harvesting the last of the summer gems like peppers and tomatoes, but this week I'm actually doing a little planting too. October is the time to plant garlic bulbs! A few years ago, I tried to plant garlic shallots, but nothing came of it. This year will be different. I've read-up on the ins and outs of garlic growing and I am ready to try again.

Step One - get garlic bulbs. You can order them online from various seed vendors, but the best bulbs come from your local CSA, farmers market, etc. Not only is this more economical, but you are also going to get a variety that grows well in your climate. It is important to note that bulbs from the local grocery store have most likely been treated with a chemical to keep the bulbs from sprouting, so they won't grow. Additionally - these bulbs are probably old and not from your neck of the woods. All of the garlic in my local grocery store is from California. What grows in Cali may not grow well in my garden zone.


Step Two - soil and compost. Since 99% of my gardening is done in containers, I'm growing the garlic in containers too. In the Spring, I shoveled out a space in the planterbox for each container and attempted to grow corn - something else to work on next year. I pulled out the corn remains and amended the soil with loads of compost.


Step Three - planting the bulbs. Separate the bulbs, you do not need to remove the papery husk from each bulb. Leave 6 to 8 inches between each bulb for root growth. Plant the bulb tip up about 1/2 an inch into the soil. Then cover with 2 inches of compost. No I do not measure this with a tape measure or ruler, just eyeball it.


Step Four - water and wait. These containers have been vacant since August so the soil was fairly dry. I watered the bulbs liberally, and will do so again every few days (unless it rains.) The roots will grow until a deep freeze sets in. I wont pay attention to the bulbs until after February. Fingers crossed for a good harvest come May/June!