Fall and Winter is the time to Plant Garlic in the Carolinas — More gardening advice from Gladys Hutson
The mornings have been cold this November and not much is happening in the garden. But there is still one crop that you can plant in these cold months. GARLIC!! Yummy, wonderful Garlic. It is probably one of the easiest crops that you will ever grow.
You will start with one nice sized firm bulb of garlic. You can buy one in the grocery store or you can usually find them on gardening sites (such as Burpee.com or GrowOrganic.com) You may even still be able to find them in your local hardware store such as Renfro Hardware or Monroe Hardware.
You will not need very many bulbs as you will be splitting the bulb up into individual cloves. Each clove will grow a new garlic bulb. So if your bulb has 10 cloves, you could grow 10 new garlic bulbs.
In prepared garden soil or even a large pot filled with potting soil, plant each clove …(POINTY SIDE UP). Bury them about 2-3 inches and cover with soil. Water well and make sure that you water about once a week if there is no rain.
That’s all there is to it. The cloves will sprout and soon you will see the garlic plant poking up through the soil. They will not grow much through the cold months, but when the temps start warming in February and March, the plant already has a good start and will continue to grow and form new garlic bulbs.
The garlic is ready to harvest when the green growth starts to die and turns brown (early to mid-June). With a shovel or pitch fork, dig up the bulbs. Do not try to pull them out as the stems are weak and will probably break, leaving the bulb still in the ground.
Lay the bulbs out on a piece of cardboard or on a screen to dry. I usually put them in a partially sunny area so that the sun does not scorch them. If rain threatens, pull them into a sheltered area. Drying cures the skin on the bulb for longer storage. Once dry (a few days) you can either braid the stems or cut the stems off and store the bulb in a dry cool place.
I like to grow lots of garlic and save a few bulbs for my next year’s crop. Once you try this, you will probably be hooked. There are 2 categories of garlic: Hard Neck and Soft Neck, and there are many varieties within those 2 categories. Garlic bulbs become available at gardening stores and web-sites in the fall, but can be planted as late as December in the Carolinas.
Give it a try. I think you will be pleased!
Happy Winter Gardening!
Guest blogger Gladys Hutson is a Master Gardener and beekeeper in Union County, North Carolina.