October – Autumn
Choosing organic seed stock
When your package of Hood River Garlic arrives, open the box immediately! Your garlic planting stock needs some fresh air after its journey to your garden. It is not necessary to break open or “pop” the bulbs until you are ready for planting garlic. Keep your organic garlic seed cool and dry until you are ready to plant. The box it arrived in is fine, just keep the box open.**** Use the crinkle packing paper as compost or mulch! **We wait until the day before planting to separate the cloves from the bulbs. Breaking apart the bulbs may cause some skin to fall off the cloves. Please note; It is not necessary to peel the garlic cloves before planting. It is however OK if the skin to falls off on a few cloves, you just don’t want the clove exposed for too long before planting garlic. To break open bulbs: Take the whole bulb into one hand and use the other hand to break the cloves apart from each other. I like to wear gloves because it takes a lot of strength.
When sorting your organic garlic seed, choose only the largest cloves per bulb for planting garlic. Save the small cloves to eat. The variety of garlic you are planting will determine how many cloves you yield per bulb. IE: Chesnok Red has 10-12 cloves per bulb, with large outer cloves and small inner cloves. Siberian is a personal favorite because the cloves are huge. Remember, the bigger the seed, the bigger the plant will become. Now you are ready for planting garlic!
Preparing the beds for planting garlic is very important to grow nice sized bulbs. After tilling your planting area, you are ready to amend your soil. There are many different ways to add organic matter into your garden. You can add compost, manure, decomposed leaves, straw, etc. We use a mixture of all of the above. Once added, till into your beds and your soil will be ready for planting garlic.
Now that you have sorted out all the largest garlic seed stock and the beds are prepped, you are ready for planting garlic! As a rule of thumb, here in the Northwest, we start planting garlic around Halloween. You don’t want to wait too long into November, because the garlic seed likes to be in the ground before it freezes.
Ready for planting
Planting garlic too early can allow the plants to start growing. Planting garlic takes place between Halloween and Thanksgiving. We have planted in some pretty frosty beds before and it is just a little uncomfortable for the planter. The garlic will be fine, just give it a good pat into the earth, and cover it nicely with a blanket of mulch. We have planted while its snowing and while its been in the 60’s. Bring all your organic garlic seed to the garden, and plant garlic cloves one at a time, right side up (pointy ends up). You want to push the garlic seed into the dirt about 3-4 inches into the earth, allowing 2 inches of dirt covering the tip of the clove. Allow 3 inches in colder climates. I take a clove between my thumb and forefingers and push down, pushing down the length of my thumb. Pull out your hand, pat down the dirt and you’ve planted your first organic garlic seed! HINTS- Vinyl gloves work great for planting garlic. They are thin enough to feel the cloves, ensuring that you are planting tips up!
Mulch the garlic for the winter after tucking all your organic garlic seed into its winter bed. It likes a nice blanket of mulch. Old partially decomposed leaves work great, old seedless straw is also a great mulch. Spread mulch about six inches thick. A good snow cover works well too.