of Growing Garlic:
feed 'em, weed 'em, give 'em space
• Prepare a well-groomed seedbed of
rich compost or composted manure. Break the bulb into individual
• Plant cloves 5-6" deep and 4-8" apart, mid
to late October, early to mid November, ideally four weeks
before the ground freezes. (Timing for central Maine, Zone
4.) More food and more space generally gives larger bulbs.
• Mulch with 4-6" of hay, leaves or straw.
• In spring, move the mulch away from the emerging tips
to free up any spears struggling to get through, then replace
it close in, to keep weeds down and moisture levels even.
• Top dress or foliar feed, and provide adequate and
even moisture while growing, to encourage larger bulbs to
• Cut off the “flower” stalks, known as
scapes, as they curl around; eat them, compost them, or dry
them for winter arrangements. If you leave the scapes on,
the underground bulbs may be smaller, but you can harvest
top-set bulbils to eat or plant them in fall for fresh greens
the next spring or new full-size bulbs in two years.
• Poke around a few garlic bulbs in late July or early
August to check growth. Use a fork to loosen the soil, and
lift the bulbs when bottom leaves are yellow or five or six
upper green leaves remain, before cloves begin to separate.
Cure in a 60-70° shaded airy place until dry. You may
need a dehumidifier during a very wet season. Do not field-cure
in New England as it is often too cool and/or too wet; if
you're in Gilroy or central Asia, it's fine.
• Trim, clean, store in a cool dry place, then enjoy.
Turbo-Charged Blue-Ribbon Garlic Growing Tips
• Big bulbs need space for roots,
high levels of nitrogen, sufficient trace minerals, and consistent
• The roots of garlic spread 3-4" on either side
of the bulb. Plant the cloves 10" apart to optimize root
growth and nutrient uptake. Space rows 1' apart. Push individual
cloves down about 1-1/2", so the tip of the clove is
just at the soil surface.
• Cover the bed with 2-3" of well-rotted compost.
Then add nitrogen sources such as a heavy application of composted
manure, or a mix of either alfalfa meal (3#/100 sq ft) or
fish meal (3#/100 sq ft) with soybean meal (5#/100 sq ft).
Fish and alfalfa meals feed the fall root growth; the soybean
meal breaks down slowly and is available the following spring.
• Azomite (2#/100 sq ft) supplies trace minerals critical
to increasing the overall size of the bulbs. Kelp meal (1#/100
sq ft) is an option which supplies even more minerals.
• Mulch provides protection from frost heaving, and
weed protection and moisture regulation in summer. Apply mulch
after fall planting, and leave mulch on throughout the spring
• Water crop during prolonged dry spells.
• In mid-June, just as the garlic begins to form heads,
sprinkle 1 Tablespoon of blood meal around each stalk, to
give a charge of nitrogen just when it is needed.