How to Grow Garlic in Your Organic Garden

Where to Plant: Garlic (Allium sativum) will grow in most types of soil, but does best in a deep, sandy loam. In poorly drained soils, grow them on ridges. It needs a sunny location and will not crop properly with less than 6 hours of sunlight a day. The soil should be reasonably fertile, but adding manure before planting is not recommended, although well-rotted organic compost will help to improve the soil structure. On poor soils, apply a light dressing of organic blood meal before planting. Since garlic is subject to the same pests and diseases that attack onions, to naturally avoid these issues, do not grow them in soil that grew onions the previous year.

Garlic cloves© John Block/Brand X Pictures/ThinkstockGarlics can serve many medicinal purposes

What Type to Plant: Commercially, it is divided into soft-neck and hard-neck types. Soft-neck produces many smaller cloves around a soft central stalk while hard-neck has fewer, larger cloves and a stiffer central stem. Most of the garlic sold in stores is soft-neck grown in China or California. Hard-neck is the better type for growing in cooler regions. The individual cloves of either type are planted and will grow to form complete bulbs.

Tip: When planting for the first time, it is best to get locally grown garlic bulbs to divide. Garlic grown in a different climatic region will not produce as well as that grown locally.

When to Plant: Garlic is normally planted in the fall and is a crop for regions that have a cool winter since it needs a cold period of at least 1 month when the temperature is around or below freezing to grow properly. In regions where winters are cold and there is little snow cover, or where the soil is very heavy, plant in spring, as soon as the soil can be worked. Where the growing season is short, the cloves can be started indoors in individual pots or in cell packs. They should be placed outdoors in a sheltered location to receive the necessary cold period and planted in spring.

Did You Know? Garlic is a biennial, but will act like a perennial since the new cloves will grow the following year.

  • Republished from:

    The Canadian Illustrated Guide to Gardening

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