Garlic always gets a space in my tiny garden because I rarely cook without it (even my favorite ice cream recipe calls for it), and I like planting things in the fall. When I’ve lost much of my garden to the first frost, putting garlic cloves into the ground connects me to next summer.
For planting and growing anything, Mother Earth News editor Barbara Pleasant never steers me wrong. Using her chart, this year I’ll plant purple stripe hardneck, which is suited to my climate. I’ll simply follow her great advice in “Growing Garlic” for a bumper crop.
To get the biggest bulbs, Barbara recommends planting garlic just after the first frost–any day now in Colorado, where early frosts have caused me to eat far too many green tomatoes. Then I follow these super easy steps to get my garlic underground, where the cloves will divide and multiply while the snow flies. I’ll have fresh garlic come June.
- Wait until just before planting to break garlic bulbs into cloves.
- Plant in sunny, well-drained beds.
- Plant cloves at least 4 inches deep and about 6-8 inches apart.
- Plant cloves with their pointed ends up.
- Cover with 3-5 inches of shredded leaves (a nice use of this resource, abundant right now).
Illustrations by Keith Ward
Softneck garlics (left) grow best where winters are mild and are great for braiding.
Hardnecks (center) adapt to cold winter climates and produce delicious scapes in early summer.
Elephant garlic (right), hardy to Zone 5 if given deep winter mulch, produces a large, mild-flavored bulb comprised of four to six big cloves.
Mother’s chart of garlic types includes descriptions, growing tips and great varieties to try.