Growing garlic in a Planty Garden

Growing garlic couldn't be easier. It's a great vegetable to sow when your garden boxes are getting empty in the fall. Or plant garlic from the end of February to early April. 

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Here's how it works: put some cloves in the ground, let them grow, and when the stems start to wither you harvest the garlic bulbs. That's it 🙂

Someone recommended I grow garlic a few years ago. It was November and there wasn't much to sow. Since then, I've grown garlic every fall.

When do you plant garlic?

The best time to plant garlic is September to mid-November or after the first frost. 

You'll probably have some room in your garden boxes around then. You harvested a lot, and there's not all that much left to sow.  

Enter garlic: the easiest vegetable there is.

How do you grow your own garlic?

First, you need good garlic bulbs, ideally ones that are fairly fresh. You want a type of garlic that can handle winter and will produce healthy bulbs. 
Garlic varieties made for cultivation have extra-large cloves, which make for healthy plants. 

These are different from the bulbs you buy in the supermarket. You can use those too, but the bulbs won't be as big.

I used to plant garlic that way too. Just use the largest cloves for the best results.
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Choose the best-looking and biggest cloves
You also need loose soil. The bulbs don't like to get too wet. They also aren't fans of lots of compost or fertilizer.

The MM-Mix is perfect for garlic: it drains excess moisture well and has plenty of natural nutrients. 

Planting garlic

Put the cloves in the ground with the point upwards.

Gardening websites have different opinions about depth and distance:
 
"Plant your garlic just below the surface and 20 cm apart."

or

"Put the cloves 10 cm deep and close together in the row." 


Exactly 😉

I just stick to the average:
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9 garlic cloves in 1 square patch
About 5 cm deep in the soil mix and 9 cloves in a square patch. So, they're about 10 cm away from each other.

Care

Growing garlic is easy because the plants don't need much attention.

A few weeks after planting, green stems come up. They look a lot like onions:
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The first garlic tops
When it's cold outside, the garlic leaves don't look as nice. But when winter's over, the plants perk up and keep growing.

They won't survive severe frost. Unless you give them some extra protection. Our MM-Muts crop cover insulates your garden box so the plants don't get too cold.

Spring growth

The plants start growing again in spring. 

You can harvest young leaves once in a while. They add a soft garlic flavor to your salads or stir fries. The older leaves are too tough for that.
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The young leaves have a tasty garlic flavor

Harvest

At the end of May and in June and July, the leaves discolor and some turn yellow. That means it's time to check if the bulbs are ripe for harvesting. 

Since the MM-Mix is so loose and airy, you can easily feel if the bulb is big enough before you pull it out. 4 - 6 cm in diameter is perfect. 
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Drying garlic in the greenhouse
The garlic is ready to eat. Fresh garlic is juicy and has a mild flavor.

Home-grown garlic also has a long shelf life, even longer than the ones you get from the store. Hang the bulbs and let them dry. Again: just like onions.

Keep them in a dry and airy place. 

Tip: set aside 1 or 2 of the largest bulbs and use them to start again in the fall.

Growing garlic in the spring

You can also plant some cloves in your garden box in the spring. In my experience, they flower fast and so the bulbs aren't as nice. Or only one big bulb grows instead of a bulb with several cloves. But maybe it's just me 😉

If you plant garlic in spring, you'll harvest in fall.

Good neighbors - bad neighbors

Garlic has a strong odor. So just to be sure, I checked if that might impact your other plants.

Turns out, peas and beans really don't like garlic. But strawberries, raspberries, beets, carrots, and tomatoes love it.
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Big garlic plants between the strawberries
Just so you know.

Honestly, I don't really think too much about that. But planting garlic next to strawberries is something I've been doing for years. Maybe that's why they grow so well.

Have fun growing your own garlic!

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PS: Do you want to know more about our way of vegetable gardening?

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