It’s time to get your garlic into the ground! Late September is the perfect time on the West Coast to get those cloves rooted and thriving for the winter so you can enjoy a great harvest next summer.
1. Separate the heads of garlic into individual cloves and let them dry on a rack for a day or two before planting. This helps to prevent the clove from rotting once in the ground.
This is especially important if you are using fresh garlic that hasn’t fully cured yet, which is likely if you are buying locally grown garlic from a farmer’s market. If you are using packaged garlic from a gardening center, this step isn’t necessary.
2. You can’t grow regular supermarket garlic here in Canada. It mostly comes from China and our climate really isn’t suitable for Asian garlic to grow. Instead, look for a purple Russian garlic variety at farmer’s markets or harvest festivals that are grown locally (meaning they work beautifully here in our climate)!
3. Plant the garlic about two to three inches deep and 8 inches apart with the pointy end of the garlic sticking upright.
4. Garlic doesn’t need much fertilizer when planted, but just before the bulbs begin to swell in the spring (in response to greater daylight hours, about mid-May), a nitrogen-rich organic fertilizer will yield larger heads.
5. Companion plant. This is probably the best thing about garlic (besides actually using it in cooking): garlic is a great deterrent for aphids! I always try to plan my garden around things that need pest protection, so for example, I have had great success with planting kale next to my garlic. It keeps the aphids away and nearly non-existent on my kale, even if the little critters are wreaking havoc on my dahlias ten feet away. I have also had great success (or perhaps good luck) in planting broccoli near my garlic. This past summer, the artichokes got hit pretty hard by aphids so I’m hoping garlic will yet again come to my rescue! I have planted some extra cloves in between the artichoke plants and I’m hoping it will keep away the pests next summer.