Here in the Northeast we often think of there being a short growing season. In other regions many folks garden as if there's a beginning and an end as well. But gardening, anywhere you do it, is circular. There may be slow times, but planning ahead for what's around the bend is crucial. Right now we're thinking about next year's garlic. Here we are, another turn of the season. Soon (but hopefully not too soon!) cool days and nights will be creeping in. Although it's too early to be pulling out the sweaters, cooking warm soup, and tucking-in the garden, it's not too soon to think about the golden age of the year, fall. In addition to the annual clean up and "tuck-in," autumn is the best time of year to take notes, reflect on mistakes and successes and enjoy the last gasps of warmth and sun.
So, it's really quite wonderful that one of the last planting tasks in the garden is getting garlic in the ground. Planting in general may feel counter to all the other fall tasks, but when you plant garlic you are putting-it-to-bed, since it needs a cold cycle to perform well. On the other hand, the very act of planting, looking forward to spring and summer and harvest brings the cycle of the seasons together quite nicely, proving that a garden never begins or ends, only changes.
Planting garlic is pretty easy. Pick a sunny day in mid-October, when the soil is still warm. Try to leave enough time before the ground freezes solid for the garlic to set roots. (Garlic can be planted any time before the ground freezes solid, though, ideally 3-6 weeks prior.)
Begin by breaking apart the heads of garlic into cloves. Count the cloves and determine the amount of space you need. Garlic prefers full sun, so choose a spot that will get full sun for the spring and early summer. Each clove will be planted at 6" spacing, in rows 12" apart. Weed and work a proper amount of garden space. After cultivating the space, mark the rows. Plant cloves root side down, 2" deep, at least 6" apart, in rows 12" apart. Water and cover with mulch. Your garlic will need to be tended to in the spring, once the ground warms and it begins to grow.
You can pre-order garlic here. We have limited amounts of each variety, so pre-order now and we'll ship everything in September in time for fall planting.
For more detailed planting and care instruction, please see our downloadable guide:Growing Garlic