It is now November, and most people think planting season is all finished for 2015. Not necessarily! Fall is a fantastic time to plant garlic - fall planted garlic produces bigger and better bulbs and most garlic grows best when planted in cool soil. Find out which type of garlic is best suited for your growing area.
Let’s begin with site preparation. Prepare a bed in a well-drained area. We don’t want any water sitting on or around the beds, so raised beds work really well. Apply a generous amount of well-composted manure and mix it well into the soil. Level the top of the bed with a garden rake. This allows the garlic to grow in a nice uniform stand. I used a “custom” garlic dibble that I made from scrap wood from around my barn. The dibble makes 4 holes that are 4” deep with 6" spacing and slightly over 1” in diameter. This allows me to plant the cloves in symmetrical 6” by 6” rows, as one of my professors would say, “Symmetry is beauty!”
Once the holes in the prepared bed are complete, start breaking the cloves apart and place one clove in each hole with the pointed end facing upwards. Ensuring the cloves are roughly 4” deep. Then cover all the holes over with soil and gently pack the top layer of soil. Do not pack the soil too much though! Now that all the garlic is in the ground and covered with soil, we need to cover the bed with mulch. I use straw as my mulch, although leaves, hay or eelgrass (if you are lucky enough to live near the ocean!) will also work. If you are using leaves make sure to shred them, as full leaves will create an impenetrable surface and the garlic will not be able to poke through in the spring. The mulch layer should be at least 3” thick and not much more than 6”. The mulch provides protection for the cloves throughout the harsh winter conditions. And helps suppress weeds the following season, while keeping moisture in the soil during dry periods. Now wait until your garlic pokes through the mulch in the spring!